ESPN will Broadcast Heroic Trucking Story to Millions of Non-Trucking Viewers


Alexandria, Virginia:

On Dec. 30, 2008, millions of people who would not otherwise be familiar with the good deeds performed by the industry’s professional truck drivers will suddenly hear about one very special professional driver who bravely plunged into freezing cold water to pull a victim to safety, despite a wind chill factor of -20. The story – which generates a very positive image of professional truck drivers and the trucking industry – will be told during Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl as Leonard T. “Lenny” Roach, a professional truck driver for Unisource of Addison, Illinois, is presented with the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) “2008 Highway Angel of the Year” trophy for exceptional heroism.

2008 marks the first time in Angel history that an “Angel of the Year” has been selected. By recognizing Roach during Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl (a post-season, NCAA-sanctioned Division I FBS college football game that is played before a crowd of 30,000, this year featuring the University of Maryland vs. the University of Nevada), event sponsors are providing an unprecedented opportunity for the trucking industry to tell its positive trucking story to a massive audience, as the game will be broadcast nationwide by ESPN.
Roach was selected by a subcommittee of TCA’s Communications & Image Policy Committee, which ranked his good deed against the other Angel nominations that were awarded in 2008. Based on a scorecard of criteria, including how many other motorists stopped to help, the degree of difficulty for the good deed performed, information provided by highway officials and incident bystanders, etc., Roach scored nearly three times higher than any other potential Angel.
TCA first learned about Roach when one of his customers nominated him as a Highway Angel for an incident that took place along I-94 near South Bend, Indiana. Roach was driving along his regular truck route at 5 a.m. when he noticed the headlights of the car in front of him suddenly disappeared. Stopping to investigate, Roach found that the car had hit a patch of black ice and was now lying upside down in a water-filled ditch. Braving a wind chill factor of -20, he plunged into the icy water up to his neck, extracted the driver, and carried him up a hill to his warm cab, where together they waited for almost two hours before emergency personnel arrived. After he dried out and made sure the accident victim was safely on his way to the hospital, Roach simply continued on his route as usual, thinking what he had done was “no big deal.”
Kelly Rhinehart, co-founder and owner of Roady’s Truck Stops of New Plymouth, Idaho, disagrees. “As sponsors of the Humanitarian Bowl, our goal is to honor those who quietly accomplish great feats without expecting to be acknowledged for their contributions,” he said. “Mr. Roach is a professional driver who has made a huge difference in someone’s life. In essence, he represents the three million professional truck drivers who safely deliver the nation’s goods to our local communities every single day. By featuring him on this year’s Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, we can help the Truckload Carriers Association provide the non-trucking public with a glimpse of the integrity and professionalism of these drivers.”
Roach, a professional truck driver for more than 30 years, continues to state he was “just doing what was right.” But both TCA and Roady’s Truck Stops believe he is a shining example of how to humanize the trucking industry, helping to improve its image with the general public and providing current or would-be professional truck drivers with the kind of recognition that helps carriers boost driver retention and morale.
“Unconcerned about his own safety, Roach acted with compassion and selflessness to help another motorist. Now, Roady’s and TCA hope to give back to this professional driver who gave so much,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “We’ll start by flying Roach to Boise, followed by a site-seeing tour. On game day, he’ll attend a Breakfast of Champions and a pre-game party prior to kick-off. He’ll watch the game from a heated, sky box seat and will receive a warm Roady’s coat as a souvenir.”
Burruss added, “I will escort him to the presentation of the trophy along with representatives from the Humanitarian Bowl, Roady’s Truck Stops, and Internet Truck Stops. After the presentation and the game, he will be treated to a nice steak dinner and will then return home the following day.”