It started while Robert Palm was rescuing a female truck driver from her wreck in a ravine. As she lay in fear of death, she talked about what it would mean for her family for her body to be so far from home, all the things they would need help with after she died.
It was during the climb from the ravine, that Robert Palm found his calling. That day, he felt called by God to form an organization that would help drivers in their times of crisis. And that is just what he has done:
Robert Palm, founder of Truckersfinalmile.org works very hard to meet the needs of drivers and their families: They cover the cost of bringing the body of a deceased trucker home and caring for the inherent needs of their family afterward, help provide practical aid like flights in the event of a family emergency, resources for missing drivers, and funding to meet the needs of those disabled during an accident.
“We are truly grateful and amazed by what truckers last mile has done for our son and family. Our son was involved in a tragic truck accident while he was on the job in New Mexico and was called home to God… I spoke to the Founder Robert Palm who was so gracious and consoling to our family,”
He told me,‘we are family Raul, and we are going to help you get your son home.’”
The father of the deceased driver continued that, “I told Robert thank you so much and that words cannot express our gratitude. I’m forever touched by them and I have become a lifetime donor. Also, I recently received a $500 dollar investment fund from the company benefiting our granddaughter. I can’t thank truckers last mile enough!”
In person, Robert is a cheerful man of the road. CDLLife had a chance to connect with him and see the new rig he’s unveiled. He bounces with energy, as he describes expanding the Christmas program for children in need.
But as he describes the greater needs of truckers and their families, his energy focuses and causes him to sit still for the first time during our interview: If we don’t have the resources we can’t help families, he sums up succinctly. “You can’t do with what you haven’t got.”
His passion for drivers and their families came out of Robert’s own experience: During his time on the road, Truckersfinalmile.org founder Robert Palm experienced the tragic loss of his brother-in-law in a tractor trailer collision. A few years later Robert had to drive himself to the emergency room in his rig. His surgery left Robert unable to work for months. Those experiences gifted him compassion for the families that were grieving the passing of a driver and empathy for the terrible position a trucker is in after a driving-related injury.
But the real inspiration for Truckersfinalmile.org came during a rescue: Robert felt called by God to start a charity helping drivers in the midst of rescuing a female tanker driver from a ravine. Robert said he waited with her in the ravine for emergency responders, but it took a long time for them to come, and the woman talked about what would happen if she died there– what it would mean to get her body home and what things her family would need.
And Robert’s been helping drivers ever since.
Since their founding in May of 2014 they have aided 336 trucking families.
But after the fall out from the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert wasn’t sure if their Truckersfinalmile.org was going to survive. “There were three days where we thought this was the end. That we’d have to close our doors.” Robert remembers.
He tells me that COVID-19 knocked out more than 70% of the donations they received.
But Robert’s entire heart is in the work he does on behalf of drivers. And one year ago he began saving money from out of his own pocket to rescue Truckersfinalmile.org. He saved money for a trailer that he donated to the organization and then a wrap that would simultaneously honor deceased drivers and raise money to help their families.
It’s called the “American Heritage Memorial.” The wrap has scenes celebrating America and the history of the trucking industry. It’s a beautifully patriotic and symbolic work that includes among many other tributes the images from the history of trucking, the Liberty Bell, an American flag banner, and the Trucker’s Prayer.
But the most important image the rig has are the black bricks painted on it: Each brick is available to sponsor, it will include a commemorative message for a fallen driver. All funds raised will be used to help drivers and their families.
An astonishing one hundred percent of every single donation raised is used to help drivers during their time of need.
There are 1,000 bricks on the truck, and Robert dreams of being able to do so much more for drivers– from building more wheelchair ramps to help disabled truckers to providing funds for educating the children of deceased drivers.
Commemorative bricks are available for $250, and they will offer families the opportunity to honor their fallen driver with 3-4 lines of text highlighting their life.
Several bricks have already been sponsored on behalf of drivers, including Jim Johnston of OOIDA, purchased on behalf of Jason of “Jason’s Law,” and others. But all families are welcome to honor their driver or donate to support his wonderful organization.
To purchase a brick, please contact Robert here:
Because Robert knows first hand the comprehensive, pressing needs of a trucking family during an emergency, he is on a mission to help drivers in every way his organization can, and he knows that when an emergency happens the timeline for rendering aid is tight– he works to verify the situation’s details within four hours, and they are available to drivers and their families 24 hours a day.
Truckersfinalmile.org has platinum non-profit status. And it’s very well earned: Out of the dozens upon dozens of reviews written by those helped by Truckersfinalmile, a pattern emerges: Robert is always there immediately for those in need with heartfelt compassion and ready resources to help them. Many shared that when they were grieving Robert called them every single day, even taking time on Christmas to see how they were faring.
Robert cares for the driver, but he also rises to meet the needs of truckers’ families. For instance, in the event of a driver’s passing, their trained chaplain provides family members with grief counseling, air fare to accompany a drivers’ body home, or covers hotel stays for family members while a driver is in the hospital.
The organization takes special care of the children of the deceased– Since 2015 they have provided a program that gives Christmas presents to children who lost a driver-parent on the road. And as a special gesture, the youngest recipient also received a college scholarship.
Robert lights up when he says he hopes that someday they can help provide college education for all deceased drivers’ children.
The organization also works to help drivers in any time of crisis: There is nothing more stressful for a driver than knowing that their family needs them and not being able to get home. Truckersfinalmile.org helps pay for and coordinate transportation home– for instance, if a tornado takes out a driver’s home or there’s a serious car accident they will get a driver back to help their family. In one case, a driver’s wife was dying of stage four cancer, and they provided airfare to her husband to get home to her.
Or when driver Mandy E. received a call that a family member had been in a serious collision in Atlanta, Georgia, Truckersfinalmile.org, paid to bring her home from where she was driving in Oklahoma City.
They have also partnered with local organizations to sponsor practical help for drivers– for example, they partnered with a local church to build a wheelchair ramp for a driver that became disabled after a serious tractor trailer incident. Whatever the needs of drivers and their families Robert Palm and Truckersfinalmile.org works hard to take care of them!
Another individual remembers the night his father passed away on the road from a heart attack. He says, “I was lost and confused, not knowing how to get him home. I was at my wits end, having received the run around from Veterans Affairs and every funeral home my family had called. No one would talk to us without at least $2500.00 in hand, until I spoke with Robert from the organization. Two hours after my initial conversation with Robert, he called me back and already had the ball rolling, absorbing an immense amount of the pressure my family was experiencing.”
When Robert called back he had already made the arrangements for the cremation: “Their generosity doesn’t stop here, refusing to have a Vietnam War Veteran shipped in the US mail, Robert’s wonderful wife Janine and two son’s drove to my front door and hand delivered my Father’s remains. His son wore his Air Force uniform, and presented me the remains and a memorial army flag, I can see my father saluting him for such a kind act. My gratitude for this non-profit, can’t be put into words. They are wonderful people, I just hope one day I will find some way to repay their kindness.”
We encourage you to get involved with Truckersfinalmile.org, if you haven’t already! Donations may be made here in support of this vital organization.