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Free rides coming from new program

It’s a reality, though few privileged citizens think about it.

Children and expectant mothers both need medical care, and some of them don’t have the means to even get to a doctor.

On Monday, the Johnson&Johnson Community Health Care Program announced a $150,000 grant that will fund Birmingham-based Kid One Transport System for two years. And for this area, that’s good news. The $150,000 will be used to assist transportation needs in Hale, Perry, Sumter and Marengo counties.

Kid One is a statewide non-profit transit system that provides free transportation to children and expectant mothers who have little or no means of transportation for accessing needed medical care. Eligible riders include children under the age of 19 and expectant mothers who have a legitimate transportation need.

This summer, Kid One will begin operating two full-time vehicles, staffed by local drivers, to serve Hale, Perry, Sumter and Marengo counties. The vehicles will provide free rides to local non-emergency medical, dental and mental health care. In serious cases, they will provide rides to specialized care in Jefferson, Mobile and Tuscaloosa counties.

Several local individuals were instrumental in helping Kid One Transport to help secure this grant. Specifically, Eva Bryant with HERO, Stephanie Ritchie with Greensboro West Elementary, Richard McGill, Administrator with Hale County Hospital, Law Lamar with Friends of Hale County, James Mock with University of West Alabama and Frances Ford with Sowing Seeds of Hope. The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce also supported the efforts as a group.

Kid One was chosen from a pool of over 200 applicants nationwide to receive this grant award. The grant will match federal dollars secured through the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), a clinical program at the UA School of Law. ADAP secured the funds through a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration under the Job Access Reverse Commute Program. After two years, funding from the private sector will be necessary to continue the program.

Kid One Transport System was founded in 1997 by former Hoover firefighter Russell Jackson to assist the thousands of Alabama children diagnosed with various illnesses, some life-threatening, who were forced to forego medical care simply because their families had little to no means of transportation.

Since that time, Kid One has provided rides to and from medical care for more than 6,000 children and expectant mothers. Kid One serves 28 Alabama counties; however, most of its services are in the Birmingham area. The new funding will allow Kid One to greatly increase its services in the Black Belt Region.