OOIDA member credits family for his Road Warrior award

March 28, 2018

Mark Schremmer

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OOIDA member Michael Sheeds won the 2018 Pilot Flying J Road Warrior grand prize.

After being named the Pilot Flying J Road Warrior winner, OOIDA member Michael Sheeds deferred the credit to his family.

“Any good that they may see in me is pretty much a reflection of my wife and kids,” Sheeds said. “My family is the best part of me.”

The Road Warrior program, which is in its fourth year, aims to recognize the “heroes on the road” and show appreciation for the drivers who go the extra mile to ensure products and goods are delivered safely, securely and on time to keep the country running efficiently.

Sheeds, of Bandera, Texas, earned the $10,000 grand prize out of a field of almost 5,000 nominees. Terry Lee, of Robert, La., and Desiree Ridley, of Davenport, Fla., earned second and third place, respectively. Lee will receive $5,000, and Ridley will receive $2,500.

“First and foremost, I’m very honored to receive this award,” Sheeds said. “It’s so nice for Pilot Flying J to take the time and to spend the money it takes to promote drivers and the good things they do. We used to be viewed as the knights of the highway. That image has been tarnished over the last few decades. The fact that they’re putting the word out about drivers and showing that we’re real people makes me proud.”

Sheeds, who also received a TA & Petro Citizen Driver award in 2015, has logged more than 3.5 million safe driving miles during his 27 years as a professional trucker.

Working for Werner Enterprises, he has trained more than 300 students throughout his career.

However, Sheeds’ main accomplishment is his family. He and his wife, Donna, adopted four daughters. Each of the children — 15-year-old Alyssa, 13-year-olds Sally and Cheyenne, and 11-year-old Elizabeth — were born with exposure to drugs or alcohol.

“If you’ve never held a 5-day-old baby, who is detoxing from heroin, it brings out a lot of dark thoughts toward the parents,” he said.

Elizabeth’s situation was so dire that the doctor suggested the Sheeds not adopt her, because she would never be normal academically.

“That doctor has never been more wrong or more right,” Sheeds said. “She is in the 99th percentile among all sixth-graders in the United States. She will never be normal academically. That would be such a step down for her.”

Sheeds said his wife deserves credit for taking care of the family when he is on the road.

“If I didn’t have such a wonderful wife, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” he said. “She’s strong enough to fill both roles when I’m gone and generous enough to pretend I’m in charge when I’m there.”

Sheeds thanked Pilot Flying J for the award and also showed gratitude toward Werner, who allows him a flexible schedule to be near his family, and TA & Petro, who didn’t have a problem with him accepting an award from a competing truck stop.

He said he plans to use the award money on a get-away for the family.

Previous Road Warrior winners include OOIDA members Jacqueline Rocha and Erik Michaels.

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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.