Teen takes stepping-stone towards his dream job

It was in March 2022 that Storm Salis, now 16, noticed a lump on his neck. “In a week and a half it went from the size of your thumb to the size of your fist,” recalled his father Richard Salis, 49. “He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma just days after he turned 15. It was really scary. We were lucky we caught it when we did and got it early.”

What ensued was over five months of chemotherapy and steroids. “Chemo was two weeks on and two weeks off. Thankfully Storm responded well to his treatment. He never complained throughout it all and he never got sick from it. It has scarred him somewhat – but I tell him that he fought the biggest battle and came out the other side. He’s my hero,” said Richard.

Proud dad Richard Salis with Storm, in front of the UD Condor.

“All his doctors said you wouldn’t have known he was going through cancer. He just took it in his stride and his doctors said he was amazing.”

Storm was officially declared cancer-free by the end of his treatment in July, however still has regular check-ups every three months. 

Passionate about trucks, Storm hopes to work his way up to driving them and eventually get his MC licence. And in April, that dream became one step closer when he was offered a job at his father’s workplace, Followmont Transport, working in the washbay.

Richard began working at Followmont Transport about 18 months ago. “This is only my second job as a truck driver and it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said.

His career in the industry also started quite recently. “I got my truck licence in 2016. My background is in formwork and scaffolding but I got to a point where I thought, I can’t do this six days a week anymore. I needed a change from the building industry and I love driving, so I thought I’d go ahead with it. I got my HR licence straight away and a Certificate III in Driving Operations.”

(l-r): Storm with his sister Brooke, mother Chevelle and father Richard.

Richard is currently driving a 14-pallet UD Condor with a mezzanine deck, doing local pick-ups and deliveries. The truck is based at Eagle Farm in Brisbane and typically does various pick-ups throughout Yatala.

“I want to upgrade to my MC licence eventually and one of the guys at Followmont is going to start teaching me to drive his B-double in the next month or so,” he added.  

Storm shaves the head of Followmont CEO Mark Tobin.

After Storm’s diagnosis, a GoFundMe page was set up for him; and the Followmont team rallied around the Sallis family to show their support. Richard was yet to meet Followmont CEO Mark Tobin when he generously contributed $5000 to the fundraiser.

“When Mark did that, I called him. I hadn’t even met him yet and he had done all this for us. He told me he’d heard good things about the way I work and was going to meet me, Storm and my wife that week to shave his head,” explained Richard.

“When Mark met Storm, he asked what he wanted to do when he finished school and Storm said he wanted to drive trucks. So Mark said when he was ready, there would be a job waiting for him.”

Tobin, along with around 15 other Followmont staff, all shaved their heads to help raise money for Storm during his cancer battle.

The Followmont team got behind a fundraiser for Storm, with many of them also shaving their heads.

Eager to get his foot in the door, Storm couldn’t wait to start work. “He kept asking me to speak to work about a job for him. I had been told that as soon as he turned 16 he had a job as a washer, but I wanted to surprise him, so I didn’t tell him.

“The past year has been an extremely hard one that’s for sure, and Storm is very excited about starting his career in the transport industry. At the moment Storm’s washing trucks and eventually they said they’ll get him to start driving the trucks around the yard and parking them in the wash bay too. This job has been really great for him.”

And Richard also enjoys driving to work while sitting alongside his son every morning too. “I’m really proud of him. I have to get him up at 4.35am every morning so he’s still getting used to that but I couldn’t be any prouder. He’s really pushing himself, even though he’s still recovering from the chemo. I love his passion. I didn’t think he’d be able to do it this soon after all the treatment. We’re all really proud of him,” he said.

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