Truckers’ path leads to the White House

OOIDA senior members meet President Trump as part of trucker celebration.

June 2020

Mark Schremmer

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Truck drivers for the past 16 years, Tina and Dave Peterson have passed through their fair share of gates to deliver freight.

On April 16, however, the opened gate granted the OOIDA senior members access to the White House, where Tina was one of four truck drivers recognized by President Donald Trump for their service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve been through a lot of gates in my career, but I never thought I would drive through the gates of the White House,” Tina said.

As part of the ceremony on the White House lawn, President Trump and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao honored Tina Peterson, Stephen Richardson, Charlton Paul Jr. and Dylan Madigan as part of a celebration of America’s truckers.

“At a time of widespread shutdowns, truck drivers form the lifeblood of our economy,” Trump said. “In the war against the virus, American truckers are the foot soldiers that are really carrying us to victory … I know I speak for the

330 million-plus Americans when I say, ‘Thank God for truckers.’”

As part of a brief speech, Tina said she and Dave have been touched by the gratitude that Americans have shown for truckers during the crisis.

“We’ve received thumbs up from motorists on the highways and have seen people standing on the overpass waving American flags to the passing trucks,” she said. “We recognize and appreciate the unique position we are in to deliver aid and keep this economy moving during this challenging time.”

Road to the White House

When she was 7 years old, Tina told her mother that she wanted to be a truck driver. By the time Dave was 8, all of the trucking-positive songs and movies of the time had set him on his career path.

Years later, Tina and Dave met and then began driving team. In 2007, they were married. The Blaine, Minn., couple became owner-operators about five years ago.

Working as Ravenwood Transport Inc., the Petersons are a contracted service provider at FedEx Ground and perform a dedicated run from Minneapolis to Dallas. They said they became members of OOIDA after listening to Land Line Now and reading Land Line Magazine. The couple said both supplied them with information that prepared them for the transition to becoming owner-operators.

Tina is a captain of America’s Road Team for ATA. Combined, Tina and Dave have about three decades’ worth of accident-free miles.

Tina’s role as a Road Team captain led to her being recognized at the White House and meeting the president.

“It was an extremely surreal and positive day,” Tina said. “President Trump and Secretary Chao were very thankful for all that truck drivers are doing. You could tell that they meant everything they said, and it felt very good to hear that.”

President Trump gave each of the truckers a ceremonial key. Secretary Chao gave Dave her key to remember the day.

Tina said she plans to put the key, along with some photos, in a shadow box as a keepsake. Dave joked he was going to hold onto his key to see if they could get a free hotel room the next time they were in Washington, D.C.

On a serious note, he said they were thankful for the experience.

“We appreciate the White House recognizing truck drivers and giving us a chance to represent all truck drivers.” LL

Mark Schremmer

Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.