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Holland Headlines

Team Holland Makes Remarkable Memories for Terminally Ill St. Louis Child

Holland granted the wish of riding in a big rig to five-year-old Hayden Bentley Brown recently diagnosed with a terminal brain disease. The event happened on Sunday, April 3 at the Holland St. Louis Terminal at 24 Gateway Commerce Center Dr., Edwardsville, IL.

A native of Alton, IL, Hayden was diagnosed with Metavhromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD), an inherited disorder that damages the nervous system. People suffering from the disease lose the ability to walk, talk, see, hear and will eventually become paralyzed.

In hopes of making the best of the time they have left with Hayden, his family has put together a "make remarkable memories" bucket list. Hayden loves cars, superheroes, baseball hats and trucks. All of the things he loves were present on Sunday and then some!

Hayden’s father, John "Parts Guy" Brown, said his son is already starting to live life backward, slowly losing the ability to walk and see. So the family is trying to fill Hayden’s life with great memories, including rides in as many interesting and exciting vehicles as possible.

Roy Gillespie, a Holland 2 Million Mile Collision-Free Linehaul Driver based in St. Louis, was watching TV coverage of Holland’s involvement in delivering truckloads of donated bottled water to Flint, MI (the most-recent community service "goodwill" project Roy and others from the Holland St. Louis terminal have done).

“Right before our story came on the news, there was a story about Hayden,” Roy recalls. “I decided to see if Holland would be willing to allow our terminal to provide a ride for him in one of our trucks. As usual when we bring ideas for community involvement to Holland management, we got quick approval.”

The event was so much more than a ride in an 18-wheeler. Others at the terminal got involved and as word spread about Hayden’s ride, other people and organizations asked how they could get involved. Sunday turned into a remarkable day for everyone.

When Hayden arrived at the terminal with his dad and two sisters, they were escorted to the big rig by Batman and Spiderman, played by local law enforcement officers who later provided a police escort for the truck’s trip down Highway 255.

As Hayden was lifted into the cab, his father noticed the “Team Hayden” decals on the door which brought him to tears. Hayden, however was all smiles as he quickly figured out how to blow the horn, something he especially enjoyed.

As the truck left the terminal, the escort also included a great many Harley riders from the Teamster Horsemen of JC13.

Members of the Team Illinois Little League troop, the Lady Knights Soccer champs, local Teamsters, Holland employees, families and friends stood along the edge of the road cheering and waving signs of support for Hayden as he rolled past on his ride in a Holland big rig pulling a Trucking Moves America Forward trailer.

Before they returned to the terminal, Hayden and his father had a ride in the rumble seat of a Ford Model A Coupe. Then one more ride with his sisters--this time in an ATV brought to the event by Linehaul Driver John Ruhman and driven by Area Director of Operations Steve Teshak who delivered the kids to the Holland terminal for a party and fed Hayden some cake.

The event organizers collected a number of gifts for Hayden. Roy Gillespie, who worked to organize the program, drives from St. Louis to Memphis and back again each night. He mentioned Hayden’s event to Holland employees at our Memphis facility, who also wanted to join in, supplying a gift bag and two inspiring signs for Hayden.

Team St. Louis was ready with a gift basket for Hayden and many poster signs with words of support--including one poster signed by most of the employees at the St. Louis terminal.

They didn’t know Hayden’s two sisters would also be attending, but in true Holland fashion they were ready. “Companies and individuals donate toys to us throughout the year,” Roy says. “We store them in our ‘toy trailers’ for distribution to kids at Christmas. John, dressed as Santa, took Hayden’s sisters out to let them have a mini-shopping spree and select their own choice of toys.”

By coincidence, the day of Hayden’s event was also Roy’s birthday. Holland co-workers brought Roy a chocolate cake which was quickly shared with Hayden and the people who played a part in Hayden's big day.

Don Cobb, a Holland City Driver, describes himself as “the lucky guy who got to do the driving,” something he says was “as an experience like no other.”

“There are 250 drivers here in St. Louis who would have jumped at the chance, so I feel lucky I was asked to drive Hayden,” Don explains. “But driving was the easy part. The hard part was all the work that Linehaul Driver Roy Gillespie, City Driver Mike Koeller and other people did to make this happen. I can’t stress enough the teamwork involved and all the help that was freely given to make this a big day for Hayden.”

Don spoke to Hayden’s father, Jonathan “Parts Guy” Brown, as things were winding down on Sunday. He thanked them for coming and said, “Your son has touched more hearts than most people do in a lifetime. Thanks for sharing him with us.”

Don Cobb has been involved in other community service events but the Sunday drive with Hayden was the ultimate. “It’s awesome that Holland supports things like this,” Don said. “It was great for Hayden and his family. Hayden smiled from ear-to-ear the whole time. In my 36-year driving career, this was the absolute tops.”

Don, a Holland Driver Mentor for five years, gave Hayden one of his Holland driver mentor caps. Team Holland, Team New Penn and Team Reddaway presented Hayden with a die-cast model of one of their trucks--items Hayden mentioned enjoying in videos posted on his Facebook page “Love for Hayden Bentley Brown.”

Said Don, "Whenever people need help, Holland people are there--it’s who we are. We are a family, and we pull together like a team. We expect nothing in return. If I can see Hayden smile, that is all the reward I need.”

Holland St. Louis Terminal Manager, Chris Gula, was thrilled that his terminal could grant this wish for Hayden. “We are excited to grant Hayden his wish to ride in an 18-wheeler and to help in making remarkable memories for him and his family,” he said. “Little boys dream of growing up to be truck drivers and experience the thrill of sitting behind the wheel of a big rig. We were overjoyed to see one of Hayden's dreams come true and another memory be made.”

See photos of the day on Holland Facebook:

See videos of Hayden’s ride on Holland Facebook:

Love for Hayden Bentley Brown public group:

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