A 38-year-old Army veteran is the winner of the 2019 Mike O’Connell Trucking’s Top Rookie Award presented by Truckers News.
Dwight Arnold, who lives in Clarksville, Tennessee and drives for Stevens Transport, was announced the award winner Friday at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas. He wins $10,000, and prizes from the RoadPro Family of Brands and Rand McNally. Arnold also received $1,000 from his company for winning the award.
He said of winning and the cash prize, “It gives you a buffer so I can work harder and get more done, clear debt and prepare a better life for my family. It’s a dream come true.”
On a more practical level, Arnold said he will use some of the prize money to fix the dryer at home and buy babydolls for his daughter. He also said he is looking at buying a truck.
The other 10 finalists, the driver training school they attended and their employer include:
- Aaron Pratt, Maverick Transportation, Maverick Transportation
- Bradley Chislett, National Tractor Trailer School, H.O. Wolding
- Daniel Walton, Roehl Transport, Roehl Transport
- Jaron Grier, New England Tractor Trailer Training School, U.S.Xpress
- Kandy Qualls, United Truck Driving School, Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co.
- Matthew Hepburn, Miller-Motte College, Melton Truck Lines
- Oday Alhousha, CDL Xpress School, Hogan Transport
- Pamela Girton (Coffman) Tulsa Technology Center, Groendyke Transport
- Thomas Blitch, Roadmaster Drivers School, Werner Enterprises, Inc.
- Tyria Snow, Diesel Driving Academy, TMC Transportation
Each received $1,000 and a prize package.
In his contest entry, Arnold explained how even after just a short period of time in the driver’s seat, trucking has improved his life and what it could further mean to him:
“Trucking has given me the opportunity to make a better home dynamic for me and my family. With me being able to be home more than when I was in the service, our family bond has deepened more now than ever before.
“I already have my own small trucking business, so I’m hoping to start a fleet with four to five trucks. I also hope to build financial stability with my family, thanks to the financial success that I have had with trucking so far.”
In addition to winning $10,000, Arnold also receives a prize package worth $530 from the RoadPro Family of Brands, which includes a RoadKing Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headset, LUMAGEAR Headlamp, PowerDrive 1000 Watt Bluetooth Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter, BlackCanyon 64 oz. water bottle, BlackCanyon Large Duffle Bag, MobileSpec Qi Wireless Charging Mount, and RoadPro 12 Volt Soft Side Cooler. The winner also receives a ClearDryve 200, Rand McNally’s premium noise-canceling 2-in-1 headphones with removable earpieces and adjustable boom mic and the current Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas.
The other 10 finalists receive $1,000, a RoadPro Family of Brands MobileSpec Qi Charger, and Rand McNally’s ClearDryve 200.
The Top Rookie award is presented by Truckers News with the support of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, National Association Of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, and Professional Truck Driver Institute.
Recognizing the top rookie driver was the idea of the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association. The award is named in his honor. He believed that honoring a top rookie driver helped show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry.