Written by: Anna Sibal
07/13/2012 9:45 AM
On December 2009, Paul and Carol Kendzor lost their dear friend Sandra "Chuch" Flynn to cancer. Sometime before that, Chuch said she would have loved traveling to her hospital appointments in the comfort of an RV, and the Kendzors decided to take her the next time she went. But Chuch died before she could have her RV ride, and so the Kendzor couple sought a way to honor her memory by starting up an organization of RV owners who will transport financially-challenged patients to their appointments for free.
What the Kendzor couple didn't know back then was that William L. Connor had already established the Angel Bus organization in 2000. However, William lost his fight with brain cancer in 2008 and his passing stalled the flight of Angel Bus. William's friend George Myers took over Angel Bus in 2009. George and the Kendzors joined forces that year. Fast-forward a couple of years and we have asked Paul Kendzor to talk with us about the Angel Bus experience. Here is what he shared with us.
CampingRoadTrip.com: It's been more than two year since Angel Bus took off. How is the effort going so far?
Paul Kendzor: We have completed 2,701 missions since January 1, 2010.
How are you doing with your Angel Bus recruitment so far?
As of last week, we have about 87 drivers signed up nationwide.
What is a typical Angel Bus mission like?
I'm not sure how to answer that one since each mission is so different. A while ago, I took a 45-year-old girl with MS and her caregivers (parents both in their late 70s) just about 100 miles from Mt. Top, PA to Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA for an appointment and back home. They were so touched and grateful and thanked me no less than 50 times on the way there and back. They had nowhere to turn to for help and read about us in another article. The alternative was to take her by private ambulance at a cost of $1,200. That was the second time in a year Angel Bus had helped them.
Another example, a Pennsylvania volunteer driver transported a two-week-old baby and parents from Bethlehem, PA to Philadelphia, PA for a heart problem consultation.
Are there special challenges that RV owners should look forward to when they volunteer to be an Angel?
The only challenge I found was keeping my emotions under control. A lot of people have never been inside a motorhome and the thought of a total stranger helping them out for free brings most of them to tears. It is a heartwarming experience that everyone who owns a motorhome should experience at least once in their lifetime.
What can volunteers expect when they become an Angel? Can you please describe what makes volunteering for Angel Bus worthwhile?
One of the greatest gifts of all: The personal satisfaction of helping out someone in their time of need. Maybe just hearing them say, "What a fitting name... You people are really angels."
Are there any benefits to being a part of the Angel Bus pool of drivers?
At this point we only have a FMCA Chapter "Friends of Angel Bus" where we plan to have rallies and meet before the convention to share stories and exchange ideas. I am trying to generate enough interest to form a Good Sam's chapter and Escapees BOF or chapter.
Did you ever meet someone memorable through your work with Angel Bus whom you feel you have touched significantly through your work and who has touched you as well?
Every person I met, every family I helped, the organizations and individuals willing to help us in promoting Angel Bus, and every driver we signed up have touched my heart.
How do you see the Angel Bus organization five years down the line?
(laughs) You have to see my new goal - 5,000 volunteer drivers in the next three years. And we can do it!
More details on Paul and Carol Kendzor's story can be found on their website. To find out more about Angel Bus or volunteer to be an Angel Bus driver, you can visit the Angel Bus website. They also have a Facebook page.
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