Gov. Henry McMaster on hand as “Senior Rides” launches in West Columbia

Community leaders.

With statewide political support, and veteran private-sector help, Senior Rides of Lexington launched in West Columbia Tuesday.

Senior Rides is a 501(c) effort that will incorporate volunteer drivers for senior citizens who need transportation to maintain their independence. 

Services will be available to residents who are 60-years or older regardless of creed, sex, origin, and veteran status. The organization will provide personal-vehicle transportation assistance and will not seek Medicaid, Medicare, or other insurance reimbursement for the service provided. To volunteer, make a financial contribution, or for more information, contact Senior Rides of Lexington at 803-582-8826.

The plan is for the first rides to be offered in West Columbia in January. The program will expand to Cayce and Springdale by mid-year. West Columbia Real Estate leader Ted McGee has donate office space for Senior Rides operations. 

On hand to show support for Senior Rides were: Gov. Henry McMaster; Sen. Nikki Setzler; Rep. Micah Caskey; West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton; Cayce Mayor Elise Partin; Springdale Mayor Michael Bishop; philanthropist Bill Dukes; and many other community leaders.

“Our seniors are a critical part of our community and contribute so much,” said Setzler. “Senior Rides will meet a tremendous need of our seniors and is a shining example of city and county government working together with the private sector to meet the needs of our citizens.”

Bill Dukes is founder of Columbia’s Blue Marlin restaurant and he was an integral part of the high-profile Honor Flights for WWII veterans to visit the nation’s capitol. He is Senior Rides chairman.

This initiative recognizes that transportation needs for many senior citizens who want to continue living independently have been under-served for too long,” said Dukes. “And that need will only become more acute as our population continues to age. Many seniors in our region need safe, reliable transportation to medical appointments, the grocery store, pharmacies, or other critical needs- and our goal is to provide that service with respect and dignity and lots of TLC.”

McMaster said indications are that seniors are on-board with the program.

“Of the things the seniors say they want, this is what they want,” said McMaster.

He also said Senior Rides is “one of the best ideas there is” and it will “have far-reaching applications.”

Horton said the endeavor could prove to be rich for all involved.

This is about more than just giving a ride,” said Horton. “This is about the ride, the conversations, and the friendships that are formed along the way. We look forward to the continuation and growth of this critical service.”

Dukes added, “Creative programs like Senior Rides, that can be replicated and scalable, may be one of the answers to help bridge the current gap between demand and available funding across the state.”

With the need identified, the organization was established on April 24, as a charitable Public Benefit Corporation in South Carolina. Through the support of volunteers and local governments, the organization will help enhance the independent living choices of Lexington County’s senior adults – and offer homebound seniors in the community the opportunity to maintain their independence.