May 17—QUITMAN — Ever since he stood outside of his childhood home and listened to a bellowing horn coming down the street, Ricky Arnold's dream has always been to drive the big rigs.
It's a dream that came to fruition 24 years ago.
Arnold was one of several truck drivers honored Saturday during the Trucker Heroes Barbecue hosted by the Do Something About It nonprofit of Calvary Christian Center Church in Quitman.
Escorted by Brooks County and Quitman firefighters, and tailed by the Quitman Police Department, a small convoy kicked off the barbecue as trucks rolled into the church parking area with their shouting horns.
Arnold, who demonstrated pride in his career, was in that line.
He currently works for the Tifton-based company, Scales, and said he travels from Georgia to Florida though he has driven to other states in the past. His daughter, Rickell, was his passenger from the time she was 2 years old to 5 years old.
As the Quitman native stood and listened to the stories of his fellow truckers Saturday, he said he was getting emotional.
"I'm so thankful that those guys reached out and honored not only me but everyone that's not even here," Arnold said. "It means so much. It really does. I was holding back tears just hearing them guys speak."
Arnold said he believes truckers are often forgotten and don't receive enough recognition. He comes from at least four generations of truck drivers.
"We sacrifice a lot, and when we walk out that door, we don't know whether we're going to come back home," he said.
He has had friends who were truckers die during the pandemic, he said.
Arnold said while on the road, he has experienced both the good and the bad but being able to live his childhood dream and his love for driving is what keeps him going through trying times.
Other special guests shared similar sentiments as Arnold during the Trucker Heroes Barbecue opening ceremony.
Calvary Christian Center has previously hosted events for first-responders as a show of gratitude for their work during the pandemic. Pastor Bobby Christian said they couldn't leave out the truckers who have been ensuring products and materials get to where they need to go.
"We're doing this because we feel like they're first responders, also," Christian said.
He noted truckers are the ones battling the elements to transport food and other items that ultimately benefit families.
"That's why we're honoring them because if it wasn't for them on many occasions, then we couldn't get the supplies and other things that we need; even with the COVID vaccine," he said. "Because of these truckers, they're one of the biggest reasons why we're getting a lot of these things happening today."
Calvary Christian Center has a couple of church members who are truckers, including Lyndell Jones. Jones is president of the Do Something About It organization.
He led a plaque ceremony, which honored truckers who have lost their lives. Families of the fallen truckers received the plaques on their behalves.
Those honored were DeTrunis Stroud, Marcus Brown, Myron Keith Denson, Mary Giddens, Lewis Peak and Louis Moss Gordon.
The truckers who were at the barbecue were presented with colorful leis, which church member Tawanna Christian called a symbol of thankfulness. They were also fed with grilled chicken, green beans, cakes, macaroni and cheese, yellow rice and potato salad.
The ceremony concluded with a release of balloons, and as the balloons ascended into the air, the truck horns shouted once more.