In an effort to further educate the trucking industry and fund efforts to combat human trafficking, PrePass is joining with other industry supporters to sponsor a special truck to raise money for the group Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT).
The “Everyday Heroes Truck” will be officially unveiled on Jan. 15 during a press conference at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Kenworth T680 model is fully loaded, painted in a blue and black scheme, and has the logos of the more than two dozen sponsors.
It will be auctioned off in May, with the proceeds going to TAT. The first “Everyday Heroes Truck” helped raise more than $80,000 for this non-profit organization that trains and empowers truck drivers to spot and report human trafficking. The truck is named after the men and women of the trucking industry who are out there on the road rescuing victims by watching for and reporting suspected human trafficking.
The truck pulls TAT’s “Freedom Drivers Project,” a trailer that houses a mobile museum to educate people about the realities of human trafficking and how the trucking industry is working to stop this crime.
The “Everyday Heroes Truck” and the “Freedom Drivers Project” trailer both will be displayed in March at Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, and at the meeting of American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council in Atlanta.
Organizing the effort is Don Blake, new truck sales manager at Inland Kenworth in Tolleson, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. Blake is a member of the TAT board of directors, along with Karen Rasmussen, CEO of HELP Inc., the provider of PrePass.
Blake said in an interview that he became involved in the project after his eyes were opened at an Arizona Trucking Association conference about the horrors of people who were being victimized by human trafficking.
“I got fired up and wanted to do something to help,” Blake said. “These people are often young kids and women. They are victims of something they don’t want to do.”
Blake said the first “Everyday Heroes” truck was a huge success. It was purchased by trucking company J&L Transportation, based in Phoenix. The company assigned the truck to one of its top drivers, who also received training in how to spot and report human trafficking. “He’s an expert and still drives [the truck] around with the sponsor decals on it,” Blake said. “He will talk to anybody about TAT and how to spot victims.”
However, this new truck almost didn’t happen, said Blake. “I was going to do something like a celebrity chef dinner to raise money for TAT, but it just wasn’t speaking to me. Then I saw someone I know on the local news arrested for soliciting a prostitute, and I told myself I’ve got to do the truck one more time.”
According to Blake, both trucks would not be possible without the sponsors. “They are the ones who are basically raising the money, because we’ve got to pay for the truck and then we’re auctioning it off. But they are also raising awareness about the problem of human trafficking.”
Blake said this year he hopes the effort will raise more than $150,000 for TAT.