AAST created the Spirit of the Trooper Award in 2009 to recognize individuals for their support of the goals and purposes of AAST and its mission to improve the lives of state troopers and their families. AAST feels strongly that all who have helped troopers in outstanding ways should be recognized and looks forward to future opportunities to honor those who display a true Spirit of the Trooper.
A business owner from Florida, Mr. Nick Gigliotti has provided financial resources to the Association since 2008. A retired member of the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary, Gigliotti also serves as a member of the FHP Advisory Council. He loves troopers, and supports all that AAST does to help troopers across the country. He joined as an Associate member of AAST.
Florida restaurateur Richard Gonzmart helped support the AAST-sponsored National Law Enforcement Training Conference in 2009 and 2010. President of the Columbia Restaurant Group, comprising nine restaurants, he has won numerous awards and has represented the state of Florida in several capacities. Known as an avid supporter of law enforcement, Gonzmart was appointed by former governor Jeb Bush to the Florida Commission on Tourism in 2006 and has served on many prestigious boards, including his current role on the Florida Highway Patrol Advisory Council.
President of B W Mobility, Inc., Mr. Holland was honored for his generous donation to the AAST Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization providing academic scholarships to the dependent children of AAST members.
Carter Hooper, a Coast Guard certified captain and head guide for H&H Coastal Hunting and Fishing of Anahuac, Texas, was recognized for his ongoing support of state troopers and his generous support of the AAST Foundation.
Hooper initially donated a fishing trip to AAST, which raised $1,100 for the foundation, whose chief benefit is scholarships for children of AAST member state troopers. Sgt. Anthony Caudle of the Tennessee Highway Patrol won the fishing trip in AAST’s online auction.
The lawyer from Roxboro, N.C., has been a longtime supporter of the Virginia/North Carolina Annual Troopers Dinner, which is supported by AAST. Mr. Hubbard was instrumental in locating funding for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol driving track and for the ballistic vest issued to all members of the patrol. He has continuously supported troopers at many charitable events throughout the state, in particular raising funds for members in need. He was given the title of honorary trooper by the North Carolina State Highway Patrol for his continuous support.
Brian Libby of DiSilva/Webster Trucking spearheaded a fundraising raffle for the family of New York trooper John Gorke, who died suddenly in 2009. Libby has also been instrumental in promoting the Association's Truckers and Troopers Unite for Safety campaign. Libby joined as an Associate member of AAST.
Sheryl Musick was honored in recognition of her hard work and creativity in assembling a beautiful memory book for Bob Yoakum, AAST's Tennessee State Director, and for her invaluable assistance in providing guests at our 2010 National Board meeting in San Antonio, Texas, with a memorable experience in touring the city.
Operation Lifesaver Tennessee
Operation Lifesaver Tennessee, a non-profit organization providing public education programs to prevent collisions, injuries, and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings, will also be awarded the Spirit of the Trooper Award for their role in providing training to safety education troopers annually at no cost. They also offer a free course for troopers on safely investigating vehicle/train collisions.
Bill Parker, a member of the Florida Highway Patrol Advisory Council, right, was recognized with the AAST Spirit of The Trooper award for his outstanding volunteer work to assist Florida troopers. The council is a volunteer organization comprised of business, professional, and community leaders throughout the state who use their experience, expertise, and service to provide input to the FHP director regarding the performance of the patrol and the quality of service provided to the public.
Parker has adopted the FHP Academy as his home away from home. He is seen on a regular basis assisting Academy staff with various needs and goes above and beyond the call of duty in supporting the men and women of FHP throughout the state. He shows his support of state troopers day in and day out.
Tennessee Trucking Association
The Tennessee Trucking Association, a non-profit trade association representing more than 400 trucking companies and industry vendors across Tennessee, regularly shows unyielding support of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
TTA hosts a number of educational events, including the Annual Truck Driving Championship and Inspector Challenge, allowing THP troopers and commercial vehicle industry professionals to compete side by side in various competitions. The group also supported the Uniformed Safety Education Officers Workshop, Inc., an educational conference sponsored by Tennessee troopers.
Ken Underwood, founder and CEO of the National Safety Commission in Ponte Vedra, Fla., generously sponsored AAST’s Trooper of the Year Award for several years. Prior to his entrepreneurial endeavors, Ken served in the U.S. Navy where he was a decorated pilot. Also a retired pilot from American Airlines, Ken graduated cum laude from Jacksonville University in 1981 with a bachelor of science degree in marketing, management, and economics.
Uppendahl, Bielendberg, Zipf and Ruffing
Ken Uppendahl, Dick Bielenberg, Fred Zipf, and Dan Ruffing, left to right, of Oregon were recognized for their volunteer work to get needed supplies to Louisiana and Mississippi state troopers following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. AAST partnered with the Oregon State Police Officers Association in Operation Trooper Relief to make this effort possible. Ruffing, owner of an Oregon trucking company, donated the use of three semi trucks and trailers to haul relief supplies and also arranged for drivers (the men pictured with Ruffing) to volunteer their time to drive the trucks to Louisiana and Mississippi.