MATS is the destination in sight for The Spirit

March-April 2020

Land Line Staff


The winding road for OOIDA’s truck stop ambassador in 2020 began in California.

Along the way, Jon Osburn, skipper of the Spirit of the American Trucker, has rolled through Arizona, Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky. The goal, in addition to touching base with truckers and hearing what concerns them, has been to arrive in Louisville, Ky., in time for the Mid-America Trucking Show.

MATS is March 26-28. Osburn will have The Spirit polished and shining in the show truck area.

Osburn has a sentimental attachment to MATS. He recalls first going to MATS in 1993, before he became skipper of The Spirit. He recalls meeting longtime OOIDA President Jim Johnston then.

OOIDA started sending The Spirit around the country in 2002, and the first tour started at MATS.

In 2005, Osburn was a contractor with Mayflower Transit. He had heard about the Special Olympics World’s Largest Truck Convoy on the “Dave Nemo Show” radio program. That prompted Osburn to help cook food for a charity fundraiser in the Papa John’s parking lot at MATS.

Then in 2009, he wrapped his truck and trailer to promote the Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, his home base.

In 2010, Osburn – who was a paramedic for 40 years – organized the Medical Education and Resource Vehicle, or MERV. The MERV provided basic medical services and screening to truckers across the U.S. The program lasted two years. Shortly after it ended, he got a call from OOIDA about driving The Spirit.

“And the rest is history. Let’s blame it on me hanging out at MATS!” Osburn said.

After MATS, Osburn plans to take The Spirit to stops in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. LL