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Inspire Awards 2009 Honorees

Katherine Freund, Transportation Activist

The accident is still difficult for Katherine Freund to discuss. In 1988 her three-year-old son, Ryan, chased his older sister, Alison, into the street— and was run over by a car. The driver, an octogenarian with dementia, didn’t stop; he said later he thought he might have hit a dog. After it was clear that Ryan would survive his many injuries, Freund turned to the mishap itself. “We do have to screen older drivers,” she says. “But once you identify someone as impaired, they still need transportation. What do you do when people can’t drive?” Freund, 58, came up with an answer. She created the Independent Transportation Network, a nonprofit that last year offered more than 30,000 rides to seniors in eight states. Unlike publicly funded transportation for older adults, which provides trips only to doctors, churches, and grocery stores, ITNAmerica has no restrictions. “It’s hard to make a case that the public should fund discretionary rides,” Freund says. “But it’s easy to make the case that quality of life depends upon them.”

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