By Brit E. Stack
Ben Burns (BSPh 94) of Iuka says that his life is made up of work and sports on all levels. As a huge Ole Miss fan, Life Member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association and Vaught Society member, his relationships with those at the Ole Miss Alumni Association and the UMAA Foundation meant that when plans began to form for the 2012 Rebel Road Trip, they knew about his RV.
“I figure they were sitting around a table in their office and thought — who better to suck into this?” Burns said.
Many alumni saw the RV that Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze, Athletics Director Ross Bjork, Chancellor Dan Jones (MD 75), Alumni Association Executive Director Tim Walsh (BPA 83, MEd 91), and Alumni Association President Richard Noble (BBA 68, JD 73) rode in during most of the inaugural Rebel Road Trip, which hit 16 cities in six days to help spread excitement about Ole Miss Athletics and Alumni Association events. What many may not know is that the RV belongs to the owner of two pharmacies and a health clinic, who donated not only the RV, but his time, in order to drive it around the region.
For Burns, driving an RV full of Ole Miss VIPs started off as nerve wracking. He said the road trip was like a job. He got up every morning to make sure everything on the RV was running right. He said he slept the full weekend after the road trip because he was so tired.
“It was great getting to know everybody,” Burns said. “It was really cool.”
Burns said he would do Rebel Road Trip again without a doubt. He joked about a “small reunion” they are planning to have during the baseball game Friday against Tennessee, featuring Gus’s Fried Chicken from Memphis — a place Burns says Coach Freeze made them stop.
“It’s going to be great to see everyone and eat some fried chicken and watch some baseball,” Burns said.
One thing that was “kind of weird” to Burns was how often he was in the spotlight. He was in the middle of a picture that a local paper took of the group, and he was introduced at the events.
“One of them would say, ‘… And back here is our bus driver,’ and I would just say, ‘Y’all are embarrassing me.’”
It was “a blast” and Burns said he can’t wait until the next one.
As of May 7, the wrapper from Rebel Road Trip was still on the RV, but not for long.
“I hired a guy to take it off starting tomorrow (May 8),” Burns said.
He hopes a new wrapper will take its place next spring. In fact, Burns wants to do it all again next year.
The RV spends most of its time in storage, when not transporting Burns’ family to Ole Miss games or on a yearly vacation. It’s getting a little bit of a rest after what Burns thinks was about 2,500 miles put on it during the Rebel Road Trip. Of the 16 Rebel Road Trip stops, the only ones the RV bypassed were Nashville and McComb, because it would have been physically impossible to drive to every single one.
“Ninety percent of the time we use it is to go to Ole Miss sports in it,” Burns said. “Other than that, it’s a family trip every year to some place like Destin or the Smoky Mountains. It’s just like home.”
Burns lives in Iuka with his wife and four children.