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WASHINGTON — In coordination with Newsal Human Trafficking Awareness month, Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) unveiled its 2019 Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 at a news conference held recently at the Newsal Mall.
On a brisk and snow-covered day in Washington, 50 members of the national media and sponsors of the Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 turned out for a chance to listen to speakers, get a first-hand look at the special TAT Kenworth T680, and take a look inside the Freedom Drivers Project, a mobile display featuring a video and artifacts from human trafficking survivors.
Featured speakers explained the importance of stopping human trafficking and the need to continue to raise awareness about the crime.
The speakers included Kendis Paris, Truckers Against Trafficking executive director and co-founder; Kevin Baney, Kenworth assistant general manager of sales and marketing; Don Blake, new truck sales manager, Inland Kenworth-Phoenix; Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Karl Racine, district of columbia attorney general; and John McKown, UPS driver and TAT ambassador.
“The press conference was held to help raise awareness for human trafficking, and we accomplished that goal through our Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 and the Freedom Drivers Project,” said Inland Kenworth’s Don Blake, who serves as a TAT board member. “There was even a local driver who passed by and decided to pull his rig over to check out our special truck. He was inspired after learning about the program, and wants to become TAT trained and to encourage others at his company to do so as well.”
Those in attendance had the opportunity to look through the Freedom Drivers Project.
“One woman told me that the Freedom Drivers Project was incredible, but the only thing missing was a box of tissues,” Blake. said “As sad as it is to walk through the exhibit, it really does portray how terrible the crime of human trafficking is today. Hopefully, with the help of TAT trained members, we may one day bring an end to this crime.”
Fighting human trafficking takes money to fund, and that is why the 2019 Everyday Heroes truck was built – as a fundraiser to offset TAT program costs. The Kenworth T680, valued at $162,000 will be auctioned off live on Ritchie Bros., site in Phoenix on May 17.
“Human trafficking is one of the greatest human rights violations of our time and it is going to take every sector, both public and private, and every individual no matter their profession, playing a role in helping to bring freedom,” Paris said. “This Everyday Heroes truck stands as a symbol that the American trucking industry is dedicated to doing just that.”
According to TAT, 2,250 calls have been made to the national hotline by truckers which have helped identify over 1,100 victims of human trafficking, many of whom are kids.
“At the office of attorney general, we see kids every day and sadly we see kids who are victims of human trafficking,” Racine said. “One of the earlier speakers spoke of the need to curtail trafficking by ending demand. The only way we can do that is if we enlist more eyes and ears on the roads, at the hotel, and at the transportation sites throughout this country.”
The unveiling of the Everyday Heroes trucks kicks off a four-month tour with stops at Kenworth’s Chillicothe, Ohio, plant (February 21-22), the American Trucking Associations Technology and Maintenance Council annual meeting in Atlanta (March 18-21), and the Mid-America Trucking show in Louisville, Kentucky (March 28-30), before making its final stop at Richie Bros.
The special Kenworth T680 is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, and PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission.
“Kenworth is honored to be involved in the auction to help maximize the value, create demand and generate top dollar for the Everyday Heroes truck to benefit this worthy cause,” Baney said. “Helping drivers understand human trafficking and knowing what they can do to help is an extension of our message, and it’s an essential part of our mission to make this a better world.”
Since its founding in 2009, over 680,000 people have become TAT educated and trained. With over 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. alone, drivers are considered the eyes and ears of the road. Drivers like John McKown, who is TAT trained and a driver for UPS, is one of those drivers looking to make a difference.
“I’m a fighter against human trafficking. This is where it gets tough because I’m a dad, a grandpa, an uncle, and a great uncle. But, more importantly, I’m in this fight to bring awareness to this horrible crime and someday, somehow make a difference in someone’s life,” McKown said.
The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 is designed to raise awareness for human trafficking, and encourage other drivers on the road to report suspicious activity to the Newsal Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.
More information is available on the TAT website at .