Industry Spotlight

April 2019
Interview with Don Blake and the "Everyday Heros" Kenworth T680
Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680
WRITTEN BY:
  • Mark Harter
PHOTOS COURTESY OF:
  • Don Blake

From the company name or logo on a door, to a safe driving tip to help motorists drive safely around tractor-trailers, just about every truck carries a message of some sort as they move America. But while most are commonplace and certain markings on a tractor-trailer are required by law, sometimes an individual, company or an organization involved in the trucking industry will go above and beyond to promote a cause with a truck to inform the motoring public and other members of the trucking industry.

A 22 year veteran of the industry, Don Blake of Inland Kenworth in Phoenix, Arizona is one of these individuals. "A few years ago I was attending the Arizona Trucking Conference and heard Truckers Against Trafficking Founder Kendis Paris speak and it opened my eyes to human trafficking" said Don. "I felt like I could help and I contacted Kendis after the conference with an idea" as Don continued.

Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680
Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680

Don's idea? A charity truck to raise both money and awareness for the Truckers Against Trafficking mission. Growing up in the 1980s, Don was a fan of the NBC hit television show, "The A-Team" and thought it might be fun to do an A-Team themed truck after the iconic black van with the red stripe featured in the show, but "I told TAT my idea and I think they thought I was crazy!" says Don. But like all great ideas, sometimes they begin differently then how they end. So instead of an A-Team themed truck, Don decided to design a one-of-a-kind Kenworth T680 that was more conservative and in line with the goals of the Truckers Against Trafficking mission and their Freedom Drivers trailer.

After approaching TAT again in 2016 with this idea and asking permission to use the TAT logo, the first Truckers Against Trafficking "Everyday Heroes" Kenworth was born.

"When I started this, I approached our President (of Inland Kenworth), Bill Currie with the idea, but before I could finish my sentence, Bill said: Done." as Don told us. "The initial interest and support from our suppliers, vendors and customers has been amazing." continued Don.

Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680 pulling the Freedom Drivers Trailer

The first "Everyday Heroes" truck, a 2017 Kenworth T680 was auctioned off by Ritchie Bros. in June of 2017, raising $89,000 in proceeds for TAT and was purchased by Phoenix based J&L Transportation. J&L was proud to purchase the truck and has become involved in supporting the Truckers Against Trafficking mission. Brian Sprowel, driver of the truck, is TAT Certified and has become an ambassador for Human Trafficking, educating people everywhere the iconic Kenworth travels.

"The first truck was a lot of fun, but a lot of work!" said Don, but he's enjoyed giving back and with over 150 hours of his personal time volunteered to the TAT mission outside of his job at Inland Kenworth and his family, Don wasn't expecting to create another truck, but told us that he had sponsors and suppliers calling him and asking "Don, are we going to do another truck this year?"

Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680
Truckers Against Trafficking Everyday Heros 2019 Kenworth T680

So, this year, sponsors, suppliers and a lot of great people have stepped up in the trucking industry. The Truckers Against Trafficking 2019 "Everyday Heroes" Kenworth T680 has been on a road tour around the United States. The truck was unveiled in Washington, D.C. this past January while pulling the TAT Freedom Drivers trailer in coordination with National Human Trafficking Awareness month and has made stops at Kenworth's Chillicothe, Ohio plant (where the truck was built), the TMC Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia and the Mid-America Trucking show in Louisville, Kentucky, before making its final stop at Richie Bros. in Phoenix, Arizona where it will be auctioned off to the highest bidder on May 17.

The "Everyday Heroes" Kenworth T680 is fully loaded, valued at over $165,000 and is equipped with a 76-inch sleeper, 232-inch wheelbase, 485HP PACCAR MX-13 engine, 12-speed PACCAR automated transmission, Vantage Kenworth interior package, 22.5 Alcoa aluminum rims mounted with Bridgestone Ecopa tires and many other options and accessories that have been donated by sponsors to make this special truck truly one-of-a-kind.

As the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, truckers are in a unique position to make a difference. Human Trafficking is color-blind and knows no ethnicity. Women and children are the common individuals being targeted and exploited by this horrible, illegal trade. Please watch the video below to learn more and get involved today.

If you don't understand what Human Trafficking is, please read a quick summary from the Official TAT website below:

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Modern-day slavery, or human trafficking exists whenever people are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex. Around the world, it is estimated that there are over 40 million slaves today. Human trafficking has been reported in all 50 states, and the number of victims in the United States is estimated in the hundreds of thousands.

While illegal, human trafficking is a booming business. Traffickers recruit out of our schools, online, in shopping malls, as well as the streets and other locations. A large percentage of the people trafficked are women and children. Many of them are used in the sex industry. They are the prostituted people on the street and in private homes, and in legitimate businesses such as restaurants, truck stops and motels. They need to be identified and recovered.

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To learn more and get involved today, as well as finding out how to become a sponsor or bbid on the "Everyday Heros" Kenworth T680, please visit the official Truckers Against Trafficking website at: www.TruckersAgainstTrafficking.org

EDITOR'S NOTE:
  • Special thanks to Don Blake for the interview, Sponsors Kenworth Truck Co, PACCAR Powertrain, Ritchie Bros, and others for supporting the Truckers Against Trafficking mission! Make sure and visit the Truckers Against Trafficking website to learn more!

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