ABC Radio News ran a story Wednesday morning about a program that's spreading across the country designed to fight childhood obesity, improve attendance rates, and make sure kids get to and from school safely.

The program is called "The Walking School Bus" and is sponsored by the Safe Routes To School Foundation.  Students walk with their classmates, along with an adult supervisor to and from school, stopping at each house.

Since the program first went into effect in 2007, the number of students walking or biking to and from school has increased nearly six percentage points.  The most recent figures show 30% of students living within a mile of school walk there in the morning and 35% walk home in the afternoon.

Obviously, the program is intended and designed for urban areas.  Here in the Midwest, particularly the rural areas, the program just isn't feasible.

And that brings me to my next topic: school bus drivers.  Thank you to all the area school bus drivers who make sure our kids get to and from school safely.

Growing up in the small town of Chester, South Dakota, there were a lot of folks who gave of their time to help drive school bus, but one person in particular had a lasting effect on me.  His name was Arnie.

Arnie owned the grocery store on Main Street called..."Arnie's'."  He drove the bus that picked me and my sister up each morning and dropped us off again later in the afternoon.  He wasn't a big man, but he sure did leave a lasting impression on me.

I'm sure the fact that he owned the grocery store had something to do with it, but Arnie always did something special for the kids on his bus whenever there was a holiday or someone was celebrating a birthday...he handed out candy!  That's something I'll never forget.  I also remember him wearing something goofy at Halloween, and at Christmas a Santa hat.

I never had a chance to thank Arnie for the fun times and great memories.  He passed away several years ago.  I have a feeling though he realized at the time that what he was doing was special.  His smile was usually just as wide as ours.

Because of Arnie, I've seriously thought about taking the test so I can drive a school bus someday.  If I do, my hope is I can be as fun and have the impact on the kids that Arnie had on me.

Thanks Arnie...and R.I.P.!