Why We Started

Why We Started

My name is James Bowling, founder of The Handicap Helper in Jacksonville, Florida. My inspiration for starting this service is my 24-year old son, Kyle. Due to serious complications at birth, Kyle has lived his life with a mental disability, only able to read and write at a second-grade level. Yet he desires to live a life as normal and productive as possible, where he can hold a job, have a bank account, and establish a certain degree of independence. A major problem Kyle has faced though is transportation. With a mental handicap, Kyle is unable to drive himself, and with the work schedules of his family, day-to-day transportation to and from work or anywhere else became a real challenge. Our first thought was to reach out to the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Connexion program, which provides door-to-door transportation for people with mental and physical disabilities, provided they qualify upon taking a test. What we found though was that in the eyes of JTA, Kyle was handicapped but not enough to qualify for their Connexion service, meaning he would have to take the regular city bus. This became a frustrating ordeal for us as a family. Though Kyle is capable of getting on and off a bus physically, he has the mental ability of an eight-year old, and to trust that he would be able to get on and off at the correct stops and correct times was worrisome. We were also concerned about his safety and the fact that he could potentially be bullied or easily taken advantage of by fellow riders. As a family we knew what Kyle needed—safe, reliable, and affordable transportation that was sensitive to his handicapped position. We wanted to have the peace of mind knowing that Kyle was safe and in good hands while commuting to and from work.

My experience with Kyle, as well as stories from other families in similar situations, are what inspired me to start The Handicap Helper as a low-cost alternative to private transportation. My mission is to help make life easier for disabled people and their families, and to help them in their quest to lead a normal life.