Several handicapped children who were left without a way to get to summer camp because of cuts in Baltimore County's budget will be given free rides by a private ambulance company.
Joe Dulany, chief executive officer of the Advanced Care Ambulance Co., learned of the children's plight after reading news reports outlining the difficulties of transporting a severely handicapped child. This is the first year Baltimore County has eliminated its transportation for handicapped campers.
"It's ludicrous. We have money to spend on so many other things, but we don't have the money to transport kids," Mr. Dulany said, adding that he hoped other transportation companies would follow his lead.
"We run the kind of business where we make our money from people's hardships," he said. "So, we're trying to give something back. . . . I'm not going to sit back and watch kids deprived of this for something as simple as transportation, if there's something I can do about it."
Starting Tuesday, Mr. Dulany's company will transport five youngsters to the camp at Pikesville High School every weekday for four weeks. The children come from the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital, a 130-bed hospital that provides rehabilitation services and specialty care for handicapped youths.
"The camps have always been a tremendous supplement for [the children's] activities," said Mark Bailey, director of child life and education at Mount Washington. "It's all the more important for them to have these opportunities because it eliminates the isolation."
After learning that the county would not provide transportation for campers, Mount Washington priced private transportation but found the $3,000 to $5,000 cost prohibitive.
"It's really very much appreciated by this institution," Mr. Bailey said of the free rides, adding that Mr. Dulany had "gone well beyond what we would ever expect from a company."
Arlene Levy, whose handicapped son, Andy, was the focus of a news report, said she was "very, very delighted and pleased that the story has gotten a reaction and a response." Mrs. Levy said she hopes the county will not eliminate the camp program next year because of decreasing enrollment caused by the transportation cuts.
Should the camp program be eliminated, Mrs. Levy said she would "be crying and I would take Andy with me to the office of the person who made the decision and see if they want to entertain him for me."