Big truck fan gets a big surprise from visitors

Looking happy and confident in the driver’s seat of a 2013 Kenworth T660, big truck fan Dakota Cox got a special visit Friday from Mountain River Trucking in Mt. Airy, N.C. Cox wrote Mountain River looking for mementos but got a whole lot more.

NORTON — Dakota Cox is a big truck fan, inspired since he was a kid by his late step-father who drove a big rig.

This is the most awesome thing that has ever happened.’
— Dakota Cox

Cox boasts a huge collection of hats, t-shirts, models, toys and other items, much sent from trucking companies he’s written to for big truck memorabilia.

Mountain River Trucking sent Cox something bigger and better than anyone else, ever. They came themselves, from Mt. Airy, N.C., and brought along with them the very truck Cox had drawn, a 2013 Kenworth T660.

They kept the visit a surprise and Cox had no idea what was happening until he arrived at the rescue squad building.

“This is the most awesome thing that has ever happened,” Cox said, smiling ear to ear, as the trucking company folks handed him t-shirts, hats and a jacket. Family and friends were gathered to share his joy. “I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything back from them,” he said.

Dakota Cox literally drops his jaw when Brad Hawks shows him the card Mountain River Trucking made and everyone clamored to sign. Above, Cox’s quick wit and candor kept everyone laughing Friday

Mountain River Trucking also brought along Cox’s original letter, not to return but to show their own keepsake from the experience. Beautifully matted and framed, Cox’s letter and drawing will hang in the company offices in Mt. Airy along with photographs of the day’s adventure.

It was his letter that signaled something special about Cox. He was right. Cox is autistic.

Cox’s mother, Patsy Crews of Princeton, W.Va., remembers when her son was in the eighth grade and school officials where they lived at the time advised he had gone as far as he could go. They suggested giving him a certificate and sending him on his way.

She rejected that notion and so did Cox. “I told them I was getting out of that school,” he said. So they moved back to Wise County, where his father, Ricky Cox, lived and volunteered with Norton Rescue Squad. Last year, Dakota graduated from J.I. Burton High School.

In front of the truck, Dakota is flanked, from left, by Derrick Bowman, owner Pete Smith, Gina McBride, Amanda Bowman and Brad Hawks, far right.

Cox’s letter caught the eye of the woman sorting the mail the day it arrived at Mountain River Trucking. It was shown to owner Pete Smith. Before long, the letter and the planned visit had the attention of virtually everyone in the company. A West Coast hauler with about 57 trucks, Mountain River doesn’t travel this way but drivers wanted to join in. So they made an over-sized card for Cox that everyone signed.

Owner Pete Smith along with several drivers including Derrick Bowman, Gina McBride and Amanda Bowman.

Cox circled the big rig, pulled himself up into the driver’s seat and crawled back into the sleeper. “It smells good in here,” he said.

The big truck fan ultimately landed in the passenger’s seat, the special guest to be squired around town and treated to lunch at his favorite place to eat. “Reno’s!” he said, wearing the big smile that never left his face.