Honor a Driver: Jason and Prella Smith
The Smith family of Beech Creek, Pennsylvania are the brains, brawn and driving force behind an annual truck show in the Keystone state’s Clinton County. Both Jason and his wife Prella were able to share with Craig Maart, VP of US Field Operations at TFC Global, over the phone and in a radio show interview on TFC Global’s segment, “TruckersLife Radio” on TNCRadio.live, which airs on Monday nights at 9:00 pm EST.
“The idea behind this truck show is combining a way of providing for our family, which is truck driving (something Jason and many generations of his family loved and know so much about) with our passion to save our son’s life and many like him who suffer from the terminal disease of cystic fibrosis,” said Prella Smith, mom, and wife.
Hayze is an active, adventurous young 11-year-old boy. He is the son of Prella and Jason Smith and has been living with cystic fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis is a terminal disease with a life expectancy now into the mid-40s. However, the struggle and fight throughout those years is not an easy one. Hayze was diagnosed at 2 weeks old. Prella had no idea what cystic fibrosis was when she received the call from the doctor. “All I could think was that there was something wrong with my precious baby boy.” So she did what no one should do and turned to Google. She googled for hours and became more and more depressed that she was going to lose her son before she even got to know him. And now she would have to call her husband who is on the road with this awful news! It was devastating and overwhelming. They didn’t have a clue what was in store for them or for their son. They didn’t want to think of the worst. All they knew to do was to fight! And that is exactly what they did.
With a lot of fight and tremendous support, Hayze’s parents said he is doing well and beating the odds that are against him.
“It’s a hard thing at times to handle knowing that you as a parent may outlive your child. It’s a hard thing to fathom at times that there may not be a college graduation, a chance to watch your child marry or have kids, or the truth that your child may see more days in a hospital than outside playing as a child should,” Prella said.
Ten years ago they decided it was not only time to fight back, but also give back. “It all started when they chose to bring the nationally accredited Great Strides Walk to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. This was a way to bring a lot of CF awareness to the community and a way for them and others to connect whose lives are and were affected by CF,” she said. The Truckers 4 Hope was a way the couple could bring together two passions in their lives.
“There aren’t many truck shows around, so we decided to bring one to our community. We wanted to make sure there would be something for everyone and all ages,” Jason said.
“This truck show is a little different,” Prella said. Instead of judged competitions, like other truck shows, this event is for the sole purpose of having fun and raising awareness of cystic fibrosis as well as funds for a cure. “There is literally something for everyone to enjoy. Our area has an appreciation for the hard working families, and the world of trucking relates to that. With that being said, those who like to work hard also like to play hard and that is where the truck/tractor pulls, fireworks, live music, food vendors, kids activities, monster trucks and stuff like that comes in. We also added a dyno and a Bullride Mania for more things to see, hear, and feel. I believe this event encapsulates much of our community’s backbone,” she added.
Trucks will come from all over the United States –many last year from all along the east coast — and are both working trucks and show trucks whose drivers all have one thing in common — pride in their truck. All types of trucks from Peterbilt, Western Star, Mac, Freightliner, Kenworth, and more. There are cabovers to conventionals to bobtails and trailers at the show. “Hours are spent if not days in shining up trucks so that they truly shine at every angle. To some, these trucks are their homes and their livelihoods. Solidarity at its best on the road leads many drivers to shows like this to express their hard work and dedication to their job,” Jason said. “And with all the styles of trucks, paint schemes, and shiny chrome, there is a lot to look at as a spectator.”
Jason comes from a long line of trucking, and much of his family is still currently driving now. “My grandfather, grandmother, father, uncle, brother, and cousins as well as myself all have and still drive truck. I grew up with my family owning their own trucking business,” he said. “As a child I would ride with my grandfather and father thinking it was the coolest thing knowing some day I would also drive truck. It is certainly a way of life and can be hard on the family left at home while I am on the road.”
As he comes home from a run and walks through the doors of his house, seeing his sons (Hayze, and 4 year old son Myelz), he is elated. “This is my way of life and passion … and that is why this truck show is what it has become. It’s all for my boys to come running, arms wide open, to me,” he said.
This event means a lot to the Smiths. The response was great this year, and they are anticipating even more next year. The first year, we had over 40 trucks. Since then, just completing our 6th year, we had over 300,” Jason said. But, we stopped counting because that is not what this event is all about. We focus on the fun and purpose of the event and the sense of togetherness it gives us versus the exact number of trucks. “It is an amazing and emotional feeling to see them all roll in each year. It puts a huge smile on my face just knowing that it happened, that we did it and it continues to grow! “The event patrons have nothing but good and positive words to say about the event. Many state that they can’t wait to come back each year as they mark their calendars to come again and bring friends. These words can’t be any more comforting. So we anticipate a bigger crowd next year, in all events as well as spectators and event patrons,” Jason said. Follow the truck show on social media at Truckers4Hope and #Hope4Hayze. Next year’s show dates are September 22- 24, 2023 at the Clinton County Fairgrounds.