This past January I was given an opportunity to share my story with the local paper about the need for wheelchair accessible transportation on the island since this has been an ongoing challenge. My goal for this project was to give to people with a disability. Like myself, the option to be able to live more independently and to have the freedom to go where they want. Transportation plays a huge role in independence.
After my story came out I was happy, with lots of positive response from the community. Like someone stopping me on the sidewalk to ask how they could help. What I didn't expect is getting the attention of Becky Rhodes, one of the taxis here on the island. She contacted me over social media and asked me to give her a call so we could discuss transportation needs.
During our first conversation, Becky told me she was filling out paperwork to start a non-profit called FreeWheelin Rides. It would provide free transportation for wheelchair users and others with specialized needs for rides around San Juan Island. After that conversation, I took a minute and thought to myself, did that really just happen?
The update for now Free Wheelin’ Rides is that we’ll be partnering with the Mullis Center to use their mobility van. We will use the donated funds to pay a stipend to the drivers.
Becky Rhodes said, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to get Free Wheelin’ Rides running!”
I'm excited to see where Free Wheelin’ Rides goes. It makes me happy to have another option for transportation here on the island. This project will help many people who live with disabilities.
I've been a part of a group called YAAS since 2019 the Young Adult Association of San Juan Island is a social and community service oriented group for young adults with disabilities. They have been with me through this whole journey even though we are far from finished. There are no better people to have by my side.
Call 360-298-6975 or email Freewheelinrides@gmail.com
- Clayton Banry