Friday, May 29, 2015

For Citizen Driver winner, having a Petro named after him is equal parts pride, humility

Even though it’s been just over a month since his favorite Petro in San Antonio got renamed in his honor, Michael Sheeds says he’s still getting used to it.

Sheeds, an OOIDA member from Bandera, Texas, is one of five professional truckers to be named the TravelCenters of America 2015 Citizen Drivers – an honor that comes with the perk of letting the winners pick their favorite truck stop to be renamed in their honor.
Michael Sheeds. Photo courtesy of TravelCenters of America.

Sheeds says he stops at his Petro “about four or five times a week” on average.

“It is really cool,” he said in a phone interview with Land Line. “It’s kind of overwhelming in a lot of ways, because I’m just a truck driver.”

Well, not just any trucker …

A former Marine, Sheeds has put in more than 3 million accident-free miles in a 25-year career in the cab. For 24 of those years, he’s been with Werner Enterprises, which he credits for “going all out” to support him as a Citizen Driver winner. He’s been honored with every safe driver award the company has to offer, he’s active in Trucker Buddy, and he even saved the lives of a car full of passengers after the vehicle burst into flames.

Outside of trucking, he’s active in his community and in charity work. He and his wife, Donna, have adopted four daughters through foster care, and he volunteers with a post-adoption support group.

At the dedication ceremony on April 22, Sheeds said TravelCenters went the extra mile to make the day special not only for him, but also for his youngest daughter, who celebrated her ninth birthday the day before. They presented her with a gift bag, her own cake, and a special birthday serenade from Lindsay Lawler.
Michael Sheeds and family. Photo courtesy of
TravelCenters of America.

“I think it shows the type of people TA and Petro are,” he said. “They went out of their way to recognize her on her birthday. Having (Lawler) sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to my 9-year-old meant every bit as much to her as her singing ‘I Drive’ to me. For them to recognize that and to go to that extreme for her, it blew me away.”

He said the funniest thing that’s happened since the Petro was rechristened is a run-in he had with a fuel attendant who didn’t know he was dealing with the store’s new namesake.

“I went to pay, and he asked if he could see my identification,” he said. “I pointed out the window and said ‘Yeah, it’s right there.’”

Sheeds said the incident has become a running joke between the two.

“It’s a lot of fun but also pretty humbling,” he said. “Just the permanence of it sinking in, day by day, it really is a neat thing.”