ABOUT PHOTO: Kids in Limos, Inc.’s treats severely-ill children like the VIPs they deserve to be.
SUMMARY: A Connecticut retiree and operator provides thrilling limousine excursions for children with serious illnesses.
TOLLAND, Conn. — What began as a literal dream has become reality for Dick Flower of Connecticut-based KIDS IN LIMOS, INC, whose non-profit operation is dedicated to providing safe, quality transportation to severely-ill children.
Trips range from hospital visits to airport transfers and pick-ups. “Any child in Connecticut, we’ll take them to New York, Boston, wherever they have to go, usually for their last chemo or radiation treatment,” Flower said. “We take special needs kids to their functions from time to time.”
Flower attributed the idea of starting Kids in Limos to his grandson, who had such a great experience riding in a limousine during a vacation to Florida that he told Flower all about his experience. “That was sort of the impetus for this,” Flower said. “I actually had dreams about this for some time. I was thinking about what I would do after my retirement, and once in a while I would dream about driving around children. In 2007, I decided to go for it and got a 1996 stretch and started Kids in Limos.”
The organization is composed of volunteers who do not earn any salaries, from chauffeurs to office staff. “I have about 12 volunteers now. Every penny we raise goes to the children,” Flower says. “There are a few CORPORATE SPONSORSwho donate annually to help keep things running.”
Two years ago, the organization grew large enough to allow Flower to commission the design of a custom limousine that would cater well to children. It has “Kids in Limos” on the side of it, and is outfitted with three TVs, a Nintendo Wii, a strobe light, neon lights, an iPod system, and a mini-fridge for children to keep their juice beverages.
Flower gets word out by visiting hospitals and oncologists and letting them know about his service and sending out brochures. Doctors will refer patients to him. He also takes the limo to different functions and events to give it some exposure.
“We are tied in with Oprah Winfrey’s CORPORATE ANGEL NETWORK, which flies kids in from all over the country, and if they come to Connecticut I’ll pick them up and drive them wherever they have to go,” Flower said. “We’re also connected with the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION, and I do a lot of airport work for their kids.”
KIDS IN LIMOS, INC SERVICES
• Provide a no-fee service for youth ages 5 to 16, with a serious illness or mental, emotional or physical disability. The limousine is not wheelchair accessible. A parent or guardian must accompany the youth.
• Provide a special ride for special children and see them smile and have an experience that they will always remember and talk about.
• Primary service is to pick up a child and the parent or guardian at their home, take them to the doctors, hospital or clinic appointment they’ve scheduled, and return them to their home.
“We’re the only one in the country doing this on a volunteer basis with children,” Flower said. “My goal would be to have a limo service in every state to take kids for their cancer treatments.”
— Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor