Every week Turlockers Beverly Whitort and Wil Marshall pick up cancer patients around the county and drive them to their treatment appointments. They not only offer a ride, but also a friendly ear to people who are going through extremely tough times. For four to five hours a week, Whitort and Marshall put aside their own worries and become traveling angels spending their time and gas money to help those struggling with cancer. Whitort and Marshall are just two of the 27 volunteers who transport cancer patients in Stanislaus County as part of the Road to Recovery program through the American Cancer Society.“They do so much for so many people,” said Stanislaus County Road to Recovery coordinator Jackie Oyer about the volunteers.Marshall has been volunteering his transportation services for eight years. “I started because I wanted to use my free time after I retired in service to people,” he said.The American Cancer Society is also an organization close to Marshall’s heart.“When my wife passed away with cancer in February 1999 it was very difficult for me. After thinking about it awhile, I thought helping some others afflicted with cancer and being in service would help with my grieving.”Over the past two years she has volunteered with the Road to Recovery program, Whitort has transported many appreciative cancer patients.“They say so much how they appreciate it and how helpful it is,” she said. “Many of the people live alone and don’t have family to help out.”Marshall has also found the people he drives to treatment to be appreciative, not only of the ride but also of the companionship.“The patients we transport are very appreciative and able to express their feelings to us as we drive them. They are relieved we are good listeners, compassionate and allow them to express their feelings,” he said.In California, 9,835 cancer patients received free transportation assistance to doctor and treatment appointments for a total of 352,579 rides during the 2008-09 fiscal year, according to Oyer. There is an ever increasing need for additional drivers to meet the growing patient population in Stanislaus County. Those interested in becoming a volunteer can call (800) 227-2345 or visit www.acsmissiontraining.org for volunteer applications and training information.
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