07/27/07 — They tricked his truck ... in blue, pink

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They tricked his truck ... in blue, pink

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on July 27, 2007 1:45 PM

LUCAMA -- A Lucama truck driver will be featured tonight on the CMT TV show "Trick My Truck," thanks to his devotion to his family and to his efforts to fight breast cancer.

Dale Hayden was nominated for the show, which picks deserving truckers and converts their work-a-day hauler into a show-stopper, by his sister, Deanna Wadleigh of Pikeville, who wrote producers saying her brother was deserving of the honor.

Hayden has been deeply involved in breast cancer awareness efforts ever since his mother, the late Mary Jane Lawless of Snow Hill, contracted the disease. At other times, he has taken off from work to help a family member cope injuries or illness. His selflessness deserved recognition, his sister told the TV people, and his love of his truck would be the best way to reward him, she said.

A CMT spokesman said Hayden was selected because of "the strong bond he shares with his family.

"CMT and the Chrome Shop Mafia wanted to be involved with him to help spread the word about breast cancer awareness. They thought he truly deserved this opportunity."

The recognition came to Hayden as a complete surprise.

He was driving his International Eagle through Joplin, Mo., a few months ago, when a big truck pulled in front of him and several men jumped out of it and headed toward him.

He said he shouted at them to get out of his way. Then, being a big fan of the show, he realized who they were. Few truckers in the country don't know the Chrome Shop Mafia.

They explained why they had stopped him, gave him another tractor-trailer to carry his load, and took off with his truck.

Hayden said he was stunned by the turn of events. His sister had arranged for his employer, Schneider National, to route him to a location where the Chrome Shop Mafia could find him. He said his sister was the first person he called with the news.

For the next few months, Hayden anxiously awaited the results.

Members of the crew called to get an idea of Hayden's interests so they could refurbish the cab to his liking. Still, he had no real idea of what it would look like until he finally got a call telling him to come back to Missouri to fetch his truck.

He said he couldn't sleep the night before, he was so excited, he said.

When he and his wife, Loretta, arrived in Joplin, they were greeted by the show's producer and director and a couple of the mechanics. While they talked, the show's theme song -- Tim McGraw's "How Bad Do You Want It?" -- played in the background.

Finally, the big moment arrived, and the door to the garage swung open. Hayden was allowed to go in, and what he saw thrilled him: a new paint job, new chrome, new tires, new rims and a cab that is a baseball lover's paradise.

As Hayden looked more closely at the truck's paint job, he realized what it symbolized, and he burst into tears.

The blue and pink paint and images are those used to promote the search for a cure for breast cancer.

"This is for my mother," he said, recalling his reaction.

And that's what he wants it to be. Part of the renovation to the truck includes a pull-out drawer that contains pamphlets about breast cancer. In the back of the truck is a water cooler that can hold cold drinks to be handed to people who are participating in cancer event walks.

Hayden has already agreed to make appearances at events that promote breast cancer prevention, and he said he hopes to be able to attend even more in the future. His dream is to travel the country and to hopefully help save lives.

He said one member of the Chrome Shop Mafia told him that he had a special truck and that he should make good use of it.

Another crew member told him he would like to attend some of the events at which Hayden's truck will be featured.

Tonight, viewers will get a chance to see his rig's transformation. In time, he hopes they will see it at public appearances in the area.

He said he won't be alone. His mother will always be there in spirit, he said.

"Due to this truck, it's like she's here," he said.

A spokesman for Schneider says on the company's Web site that they are proud to have Hayden as an employee and are reveling in his recognition.

"We are thrilled that Dale's story will touch millions of viewers even after the episode airs," said Wayne Lubner, vice president of driver and contractor relations for Schneider National. "We wholeheartedly support his efforts to spread the word about breast cancer awareness and commend his dedication to the cause. He is truly inspiring -- and deserving of this amazing experience."