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Donate Your Passenger Seat To Help Save Lives

MADERA COUNTY — One of the toughest challenges cancer patients face is getting to and from treatment. Many patients don’t own a vehicle, can’t afford gas, or don’t have access to public transportation. Some may be too ill to drive, or have no family members who can help with all their transportation needs.

“Without access to reliable transportation, cancer patients are unable to receive regular treatment,” says volunteer driver Mickey Jones. “And even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there.”

The American Cancer Society is seeking volunteer drivers, especially in the rural areas, willing to donate their passenger seat to transport cancer patients to and from their treatment through the Road To Recovery program.

All you need is a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle, and proof of insurance. Drivers must be 18 to 84 years old and have a good driving record. The Society conducts background checks on all drivers and provides free online training.

“As a volunteer driver, I can attest that the patients aren’t the only ones to benefit from this program,” says Jones. “It’s a great feeling to know that I’m literally giving someone a ride that is helping to save their life.”

“At this time, we don’t have any volunteer drivers in the Oakhurst, Coarsegold or North Fork areas,” says Donna Gavello, Program Manager, Mission Delivery for the American Cancer Society, “yet there are cancer patients living there.”

Today’s busy lifestyles can make it hard to find time to volunteer, however, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family and your community. The right match can help you make an impact in the community, learn new skills and even advance your career. As an American Cancer Society volunteer, you also can honor a survivor or a loved one lost to cancer while joining the fight to end the disease.

The American Cancer Society’s Road To Recovery® program offers flexible scheduling and a chance to give back while literally helping to save lives.

An estimated 600 Madera County residents will learn they have cancer this year and getting to their scheduled treatment will be their greatest concern. To help patients get to the critical care they need without additional stress, the American Cancer Society Road To Recovery program can help provide free transportation to and from treatment for people who have cancer and who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

“One cancer patient requiring radiation therapy could need between 20 to 30 trips to treatment over the course of six weeks,” says Gavello. “A patient receiving chemotherapy may need weekly treatment for up to a year.”

Many cancer patients don’t own a vehicle, can’t afford the extra gasoline, or don’t have access to public transportation. Some patients may be elderly and unable to drive, too ill to drive, or have no family members or friends who are able to provide regular assistance with transportation.

“Volunteering doesn’t have to take over your life to be a valuable experience,” said Gavello. “In fact, just three or four hours per week can be highly beneficial to both you and your chosen cause. The important thing is to volunteer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. Volunteering should be a fun and rewarding experience, not another chore on your to-do list.”

The Road To Recovery program provides transportation options for patients in dire situations and currently is in need of volunteer drivers in Madera County, especially those who are willing to drive patients to treatment in Fresno. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so patients can receive the lifesaving treatments they need. Drivers also provide encouragement and support.

To volunteer, you must have a valid driver’s license, a safe and reliable vehicle, and proof of automobile insurance. Drivers must be 18 years of age or older and have a good driving history. They arrange their own schedules and can commit as many or as few hours as their schedule allows. The American Cancer Society provides free training to drivers and conducts criminal background and driving record checks.

“The most valuable skills you can bring to any volunteer effort are compassion, an open mind, a willingness to do whatever is needed, and a positive attitude,” Gavello notes. “Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. It also strengthens your ties to the community, exposes you to people with common interests, and provides a sense of purpose.”

To learn more about the benefits of volunteering and how to become a Road To Recovery volunteer, call (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org/volunteer.

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2.5 million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 25 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress, 14.5 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We’re determined to finish the fight against cancer. We’re finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

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