The Trucker — December 1-14 2015
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Brian Miller, Dr Cool, Detroit Radiator Make 7-Year-Old’s Dreams Come True

Dorothy Cox

Jayden Gohl wasn’t expected to live long enough to be born, having been diagnosed with severe hydrocephalus (over-production of cerebrospinal fluid) at 20 weeks gestation. So his parents were handed information on abortions and hospice care.

But a determined Jayden did come into the world on July 3, 2008, albeit 5.5 weeks premature and via C-section, weighing in at 7 pounds. Four and a half pounds of that was his head, which was filled with cerebrospinal fluid. He had only 10 percent brain tissue and half of his heart wasn’t formed.

Miraculously, the rest of his heart formed overnight and Jayden survived his first brain surgery. His parents, Tim and Lauren Gohl, refused feeding tube surgery for Jayden and two years later, an MRI showed Jayden’s brain had completely formed, and in 2012 this little dynamo began taking his first steps.

But when the now 7-year-old Jayden — quite the big rig enthusiast — came aboard Brian Miller’s tricked-out 1999 W900-L Kenworth named DR COOL during the annual “Parade of Lights” in St. Ignace, Michigan, this fall, he looked and acted like any other child.

Miller had no idea what this curious little boy, who he dubbed, “little man,” had been through.

Employed by Randall Industries/Detroit Radiator part time, Miller takes the KW to truck shows and related events across the country, pulling a trailer with sample displays of the company’s radiators, air conditioning systems and other aftermarket cooling product solutions for the heavy-duty trucking industry.

The rest of the time Miller hauls a milk Tanker for MLT milk company out of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, taking the product to Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Illinois.

“The majority of my career I’ve been an over-the-road driver,” he said.

But nothing prepared him for Jayden, who he says with the surgeries and everything he’s gone through is “one tough kid.” “He’s a typical 7-year-old.

He likes trucks and is very attentive to what you’re doing, asking questions like ‘what does this do, why do you do that?’ By the time Jayden exited the truck, he knew what practically all the knobs and buttons did.

“It was eye-opening for my wife (Mary Jo) and me. It brought our attention to kids like Jayden. … He’s one very sharp little boy. It was our privilege to get to be part of the event with Jayden.”

Before the parade, participating truck drivers were asked if they would volunteer for something. For what, they weren’t told.

Miller looked around and saw no one had raised their hand so he said, “Yes sir, what do you need?”

He and his wife were asked to let Jayden, the parade’s junior grand marshal, ride with them as part of the truck convoy crossing the five-mile Mackinac Bridge and back and through scenic St. Ignace.

“It’s been an overwhelming experience for us,” Miller said. “We got to know Jayden when he was in the truck and became good friends with him and his mom and dad.” He keeps in touch regularly with them now on Facebook and calls Jayden’s dad at least once a month.

For their participation and willingness to make a little boy’s dreams come true, Detroit Radiator Corp. received the 2015 Richard Crane memorial Legend Award, one of two such winners — a first.

The Richard Crane Memorial Foundation recognizes one truck each year for the Legend Award and the honor is never based on eye appeal, alone, but also on the value behind the company and the truck. And yes, a truck did win the award this year, but a second award was also given to Detroit Radiator for inviting Jayden aboard DR COOL and giving him the ride of his young life.

On November 13 Detroit Radiator was presented with their award at the company’s headquarters in Romulus, Michigan, and Jayden got a replica 18-wheeler.

Fran Crane Bernard, co-founder of the Richard Crane Memorial Foundation and daughter of the late Richard Crane, said, “We just knew that we had to have two Legend Awards this year. Because of Brian Miller, Craig McClain [Detroit Radiator’s national sales rep who invited Jayden aboard DR COOL] and Detroit Radiator’s generosity, they not only made Jayden Gohl’s day, they reminded us of what the Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show is all about, a great family oriented, caring event for one and all to enjoy.”

And probably no one enjoyed it more than Jayden — unless it was Brian Miller.