A South Dakota Truck Driving champion with a passion for supporting the Special Olympics and a drive to adopt a healthy lifestyle, Martin “Marty” Ellis was a natural fit to be named by TA-Petro as a 2017 Citizen Driver Honoree.
In 2013, TA-Petro launched the Citizen Driver Program to honor exceptional drivers who exhibit strong citizenship, community involvement, leadership, health and wellness, and safety. To date, 26 Citizen Driver Honorees have been named as the best of the best. Marty is one of five members of the 2017 class.
Based in Carl Junction, Missouri, Marty’s 22-year driving career includes 2.8 million accident free miles. He has been recognized for this great achievement several times, winning the 2005-2006 Safe Driver of the Year award and the Driver of the Month award from the South Dakota Trucking Association (SDTA) in February of 2006 and March of 2013. He has also earned four state titles at the South Dakota Truck Driving Championships.
“Marty consistently conveys the best qualities of professional drivers and represents the importance and value of the trucking industry through his actions within AND outside of the trucking community. Between organizing the largest Truck Convoy for Special Olympics in the country, to advocating for drivers’ interests in important forums, to his professional driving, to just being a really great person in the community, Marty is tops in his class!” said Anne Ferro, President & CEO, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
In 2002, Marty became involved in the South Dakota Convoy and Truck Show benefitting Special Olympics and has helped to grow the event every year, bringing enormous benefits to kids with special needs.
“Marty’s involvement and passion for the World’s Largest Convoy for Special Olympics is infectious. He was instrumental in getting many people, including myself, involved. Marty has many times put his own money and resources into the convoys to create new fundraising endeavors. Marty does this because he is a man of commitment and truly loves what he does,” said Gary Schmidt, Captain, South Dakota Road Team.
With Marty’s dedication and leadership, the South Dakota Special Olympics Convoy has grown from 18 participating trucks in 2002 to more than 150 trucks this past year. He is passionate about the cause, and is instrumental in organizing the event, recruiting drivers and volunteers, and generating support from both the trucking industry and outside businesses.
“Simply put, spending time around Marty Ellis made me feel like a better person and inspired me to do more in my community. People who inspire do not set out to do so. They simply do. They are people like Marty Ellis,” said Jami Jones, Managing Editor, Land Line Magazine.
A few years ago, Marty decided he needed to do something about his health. He started by quitting smoking, then moved on to eating better and exercising. So far, he has lost over 150 pounds and is an inspiration to other drivers. Walking is his exercise of choice, with a goal of walking two miles each day, or as he says “Just do two.”
“Marty has had an impact on many with his healthy choices of feeling fit and enjoying life while doing so. Marty has been an inspiration for many of us by showing us an example of how exercise and good choices can impact our well- being,” said Carol Husby.
Do you know someone who should be a Citizen Driver? TA-Petro is currently accepting nominations for our next class of Citizen Driver Honorees. You have until September 30, 2017 to submit your entry The 2018 Citizen Drivers will be announced at a ceremony at the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.