The governor introduced Corwin to the crowds saying, “Joining us here today is Kirk Corwin. He’s a driver with Walpole Inc. He was able to get his commercial driver’s license through one of our programs here in the state of Florida. He was also spared his job when the legislature came in and we protected against the vax mandates. So, thank you for stepping up, and thank you for fulfilling an important role in our economy.
“Four years ago, the state was producing about 600 truck drivers a year. Now through all of our initiatives over the last four years, we’re capable of producing 3,500 truck drivers each and every year. You want to talk about supply chain, you want to talk about making sure our economy runs, these guys are really important for that.”
Ryan Walpole said the governor’s office reached out to Walpole back in July. “He’s really been promoting transportation and funding for schooling to get your CDL. They asked us if we had anybody within our organization that could come and meet them in Palm Beach at a news conference.” During this news conference, the governor talked about the economic numbers in Florida, the wins he has had and the schooling, explained Walpole. Kirk Corwin was able to get his CDL through a program through the state of Florida. It paid for him to get his CDL. Corwin also has a rare form of cancer which make getting the covid vaccination dangerous for him. If the state had not intervened, protecting against vaccine mandates, he would have lost his job.
After that meeting, Corwin was asked to be a part of the State of the State Address. He was also invited to attend a gala at the governor’s mansion after the speech.
Corwin was born in Nassawadox, Va., the youngest of eight children. His father was a migrant farm worker. The family travelled from Mears, Va. to Okeechobee and back until Corwin was about 12 years old. At that point, the family stayed in Okeechobee permanently.
Corwin worked as a trucker for many years until he went to work in his (now former) wife’s family’s air conditioning business. In 2015, he was seriously injured and suffered through several surgeries and rehab which seemed to do little good. Unable to pass a physical, he lost his CDL license and was out of work for more than six years.
He went to Career Source and met a woman named Kathleen Crow. “She told me if I would keep working towards getting better on my own, she would work extremely hard to get me the grant from the state to go back into trucking. It took me nine months, but I was finally able to pass the Go to Work physical and the DOT physical.” She got him the grant, and he went to IRSC and got his license back. He thought he would have a really hard time getting a job because he had not worked in trucking for so long. A woman named Leslie Lundy came to the school from Walpole and spoke to him. She listened to his story and told him to go talk to Donnie Yates at Walpole, and he was hired. “I owe them a lot for taking a chance on me.” He has been there close to two years now. “I love it here. Other than working for myself, they are the best people I have ever worked for,” he said.
Corwin said when he and Walpole went to the news conference, they thought Walpole would be speaking. They were both surprised when the governor asked Corwin to say a few words, but he managed to choke out a few things. “I had not prepared anything. I was just supposed to wave.”
State of the State https://www.youtube.com/live/81LfP1cgFWw?feature=share