I'd like to thank Debra Whisenant and all her school children for nominating me for such a prestigious award, Trucker Buddy founder Gary King, President of Trucker Buddy International Ellen Voie for presenting me with an opportunity to meet these kids, befriend them and hopefully, teach them that the world extends beyond, well beyond
the here and now or the I, me, my attitude of so many.
Who'd have thought that taking my now ex-wife to a local animal shelter on a cold, rainy day in November of 1999 would have brought me to this place?
I wouldn't have, in fact, I would have laughed at the idea until I experienced the unconditional love and acceptance that a pet can bring to your life, and that's when things started to change for me.
We adopted Misty, then Sari and when I had to go back out on the road as an OTR driver, Zoey came into my life and all of these animals have brought something into my life that words cannot describe.
Since then, we have added Bari and Josephine and my family was as big as it was going to get, but the passion that I have for these wonderful creatures we call "CATS" has extended to using every means at my disposal to save as many of them as I can from leaving this world without someone who loved and cared for them.
I've learned that as the recepiants of a cats love, not only is that something that has to be earned, in light of the way our society treats these noble animals, we can be the least deserving of that love.
I need point no farther than to the thousands of cats that are euthanized in animal shelters each year, all for lack of a good home.
In my role as a volunteer with Cat Rescue, Inc. and the Portsmouth Humane Society, I have seen first hand the unimaginable cruelity that human beings are capable of and the irresponsible attitude of so many who claim to "love their pets".
As a long-haul trucker, I have this terriable habit of telling people exactly what I think and calling things just as I see them, often offending those with whom I disagree.
While I'm no "activist", I simply cannot stand on the sidelines, wringing my hands over things that common sense tells you are wrong and say nothing.
There are times when direct intervention is warrented, even demanded and sometimes, the referees have to be ejected because "that's how we've always done it".
These are the people who incur my wrath and want only to stay clear of me when I'm on a tirade.
You know, sometimes, you can't find common sense with a search warrant.
There are also those who take on their responsibilities to the animals each day without the help and support of the community that they serve and are forced to euthanize the animals that are no longer wanted or those animals that the owners "have no time for".
The people who care for the shelter animals for little or no pay, those who volunteer ther time to take a stray cat to the Vet, those who work behind the scenes trying to get effective legislation passed, those who are called into a home where animals have been neglected or abused, and finally, those who must end an animals life when humans have failed it.
These are the people I want to help.
I'm not going to bore you with a list of the things I've done or the things I have in the works, that would be a waste of your time and mine.
What I will tell you is that a man only had one chance to make his mark on the world, one.
The possibilities of being remembered as anything from a great the world will always remember to a man who accomplished nothing, not being remembered at all are equal.
The difference is what a man chooses to do
with himself is what makes the difference and his deeds and the perception of these deeds in the eyes of others is what will decide what your legacy will be.
I chose to share my experiences with school children because unlike my generation, the children of today have so few examples of good people that are worthy of respect to show them the way.
I chose to do what I could for companion animals because I wanted to share the joy of a pet with people who could really benifit from the unconditional love and understanding that a companion animal could offer.
This could well take an animal out of a shelter and into a loving home for the rest of it's life.
In these efforts, I hope that I am worthy of respect in the eyes of the children I share my experiences with and that others could experience the love, friendship and understanding that my cats have provided to me.
Through both of these means, it is my hope that I am able to impress upon them the absolute importance of spaying and neutering, proper animal care and awareness of the problems regarding companion animals that confront our society.
The numbers of animals euthanized for lack of a good home in our country are getting lower, but those numbers are still in the millions
I recognize that I can't save them all, but I would be remiss for failing to save all that I can however I am able.
If doing these things is all that I am remembered for, then in my estimation, I will have left a mark on the world of which I can be proud.