Pilot Flying J announced the winners of its third annual Road Warrior campaign. Jacqueline Rocha of Acworth, Georgia, Kevin Mailand of Lawrence, Kansas, and Charles Johnson of Dubuque, Iowa, have been named the grand, second and third place Road Warrior winners respectively.
In September 2016, Pilot Flying J kicked off the annual online contest to thank professional drivers for keeping the nation moving by recognizing those who demonstrate hard work, perseverance and passion for their craft, and asking Americans to nominate “heroes on the road” who go the extra mile to get the job done right. As winners of the third annual Road Warrior campaign, Rocha will receive $10,000, Mailand will receive $5,000 and Johnson will receive $2,500, and all will join an exclusive group of past program winners.
“We are always so inspired by the passion and determination of professional drivers,” said Ken Parent, President of Pilot Flying J. “All three winners, and so many of their fellow drivers, are excellent representations of the professional driver community, and we are thrilled to recognize them with this Road Warrior honor.”
The new Road Warrior are each making strong contributions to the professional driving community in their own, unique ways:
- Jacqueline Rocha, grand prize winner: As a long haul driver who joined the professional driving community just after she turned 21, Rocha is an advocate for the industry, encouraging Millennials and females to consider careers in trucking. In her career as a professional driver, Rocha strives to learn from the veterans of the road, while simultaneously helping those new to the industry excel. As she continues her career, Rocha hopes to start a nonprofit organization that funds the costs associated with commercial driver’s license school, particularly aimed at recruiting young women to the industry. Rocha represents the first woman Road Warrior contest winner.
- Kevin Mailand, second place winner: Mailand, who was nominated by his wife, is a second-generation long haul driver with more than 30 years of professional driving experience. With more than 2 million miles of safe driving experience logged with his current company, Mailand has earned respect from his peers for his willingness to help fellow drivers across the country. Even after being diagnosed with stage three esophageal cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and major surgery, Mailand maintains his love for the industry and is still driving professionally.
- Charles Johnson, third place winner: Johnson earned his Road Warrior stripes for his 43 years of professional driving experience, at one point or another driving through all 50 states and all providences of Canada. Career highlights include driving through Glacier National Park into Canada during the winter, driving for the U.S. Army and training more than 500 professional drivers.
“More than anything, I’m incredibly humbled to join a great group of past Road Warrior winners,” said Rocha. “I’ve met countless hardworking professional drivers over the course of my time behind the wheel, many of whom inspire me daily with their passion for this amazing industry. This award wouldn’t be possible without the mentors who came before me to help shape my career.”
Pilot Flying J previously named Oceanside, California, resident Erik Michaels as its second annual Road Warrior grand prize winner. As a long haul driver with 47 years of experience, Michaels overcame extreme odds to return to the road after experiencing a major stroke while on the job. U.S. Army veteran Kyle Cones received the first Road Warrior honor for his commitment to his fellow drivers, family and country.