How do you get to the doctor? To the grocery store? To job interviews or to work? For many, it's a matter of simply hopping in a car, with no real thinking or worrying. For those with physical disabilities, getting to basic appointments can be a much more daunting task. “All those things maybe you or I take for granted because we can just get in our car,” said Pete DeBoer, Development Director at Disability Advocates of Kent County. For the work they do to ensure everyone in the greater Grand Rapids community can enjoy mobility, The Rapid is being honored by Disability Advocates of Kent County with the 2014 Invest in Ability Award. The transportation system will be recognized at a special dinner and ceremony on Monday, October 20 at Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Tickets are $100 with a limited number still available online. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a sponsor of the event, which DeBoer said is the organization’s biggest fundraiser for the year. Grand Rapids Symphony Music Director David Lockington will deliver a keynote address discussing musicians who have overcome their disabilities. Before 2000, bus service stopped running at 6:15 p.m. on weekdays and didn’t run at all on Sundays in Kent County. Since then, Disability Advocates’ leadership point to steady improvements The Rapid has made that benefit the disabled community and residents in general. Extended hours of service, new buses and more frequent service, new Go!Bus vehicles, and the construction of The Rapid Central Station and The Vern Ehlers Amtrak Station have all helped improve access. The recent addition of the Silver Line Bus Rapid Transit system is another way The Rapid continues to innovate, DeBoer explained. “It’s incredible,” he said. “That system is state of the art.” Photo credit: Max Barners
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