|Photo by Nikohle Ellis|
During the Truckers for Troops telethon, veterans and supporters of the five armed services have competed for the last several years to see which branch called in the most to donate to their fellow troops. Of course, it’s all in fun, but this year the competition really heated up.
When truckers called in, I can testify that the phone crew kept a careful tally on a huge bulletin board. It’s become a contest with no small amount of interest.
That’s not really surprising. About 57 percent of OOIDA members are military veterans. Many have sons and daughters serving right now. Truckers are generally a community of people who passionately support our troops.
This unofficial “branch challenge” began during the radio telethon a few years ago. People would call in a give a shout out to their former branch. The membership department started keeping track. When OOIDA’s trucking news radio show “Land Line Now” Anchor Reed Black – proud Army veteran – found out about the challenge he boasted that his fellow Army vets would likely exceed the efforts of all other branches put together.
Land Line Magazine Managing Editor Jami Jones was in the show’s studio when the statement was made. She could not let that go without a challenge, so she offered to lead the team that would include all other branches. Truckers who called in to participate also “cast a vote” on behalf of the branch of choice.
Team Reed and Army was a consistent winner the first couple of years, but last year votes from branches other than Army pushed Team Jami to victory.
In the early hours of this year’s telethon, Reed Black had clearly pulled ahead. But that lead fell in the last days due to overwhelming support from the other branches, including one vote on behalf of the British Royal Navy.
On Friday, OOIDA’s Membership Department announced that the 2013 Truckers for Troops branch challenge was again won by Team Jami.
“This is just a fun contest,” says Jami. “The real winners here are the troops who are reminded by our efforts that we are thinking of them, and we appreciate what they do.”
The first congratulations to Team Jami came from OOIDA President Jim Johnston, a Navy veteran. However, it was rumored this week that OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer, an Army veteran, was asking for a recount.