Barb Thomas is happy to welcome both friends and strangers into her yellow 1976 Ford Maverick.
All of Thomas’s passengers have one thing in common: They have been diagnosed with cancer.
Thomas, 57, who fought and won her own battle against the disease five years ago, now helps current cancer patients with their struggle.
She is one of 13 active drivers for the American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program in Alachua County. The program pairs cancer patients who lack transportation with volunteer drivers, who pick up patients from their homes, drive them to their treatment facilities and take them back home once the treatment is over.
“It is an invaluable service for patients who don’t have any other way of getting to their treatment,” Thomas said.
The program, however, has hit a roadblock.
According to Mel Toran, an area executive director with the American Cancer Society, Road to Recovery’s need for volunteers is desperate.
“People are missing their treatments due to lack of transportation,” he said.
Toran and Thomas agree that a combination of high gas prices and a struggling economy are to blame for the lack of volunteers.
“Sometimes I drive once a month, sometimes four,” Thomas said. “It’s a great way to give back after all the help I received while I was in their shoes.”
If you’re interested in volunteering, call 800-227-2345.