Thomas Built Buses Names Children’s Choice Driver of the Year
High Point, N.C. – “What really makes her special is her inside kindness,” said eight-year old Luke of Trussville, Alabama, in an essay nominating his bus driver, Renea Cataldo, as Thomas Built Buses’ Driver of the Year. “Mrs. Renea, hands down, should be bus driver of the year.”
The admiration is mutual. When she learned she was this year’s winner, Cataldo said: “These kids make my day. They definitely make me feel special.” Cataldo, who’s been driving a school bus for nearly 16 years, started driving high school students and now delivers elementary school students to school each day. She remembers their birthdays, celebrates the last week of school and brings holiday treats for her small passengers.
As the 2009 grand prize winner, Cataldo will receive a $1,000 Visa® gift card. Stehr will receive a $1,000 education savings bond and a laptop computer, and both also will receive Thomas Built Buses jackets and Saf-T-Liner® C2 school bus lunch boxes.
Now in its fourth year, the contest was initiated as part of Thomas Built Buses 90th anniversary celebration in 2005. Hundreds of children have participated by nominating their favorite bus drivers in 90-word essays that often include illustrations, stickers and photos of themselves with their drivers. This year more than 1,000 entries were received.
“The contest is a way for us to thank the school bus drivers who take such good care of their precious cargo, and to recognize the important role they play in students’ lives,” said Thomas Built Buses President and CEO John O’Leary.
Almost half a million school buses in the U.S. make about 10 billion passenger trips a year, transporting more than 25 million students a day, while maintaining a safety record unparalleled in the transportation industry.
This year’s contest also recognized four other drivers. Named runners-up were Sam McGroom from Hillsborough, North Carolina, who was nominated by student Chase K.; and Sheree Cook from Trussville, Alabama, nominated by Suzanne V.
Honorable mentions Joe Cimmarrusti from Saint Charles, Illinois, and Walter Ritchea from Wheeling, West Virginia, were also recognized by the judges. The above mentioned finalists and the drivers they nominated will receive Thomas Built jackets and Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus lunch boxes.
Essays were judged on content and originality by representatives of the National Association of Pupil Transportation, School Bus Fleet magazine and Thomas Built Buses. Thomas Built Buses verified driver qualifications with each district.
More information on the contest, photos and scans of winning essays and illustrations may be viewed at www.thomasbus.com/contest.
Thomas Built Buses is a leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has focused on delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.
Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer on the continent and a leading manufacturer of class 4-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.