Ambulance service ensures entire family gets together for mother’s last Thanksgiving


LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – During the holidays, Priority Ambulance provides free transportation to people who are disabled and in nursing home care. They pick them up, take them to be with their family, and pick them up when the celebrating is over.

It’s a service that’s brought joy to dozens of East Tennessee families, but one was especially grateful this year.

Linda Wolfenbarger is disabled and lives in a nursing home. Thursday, she greeted two EMTs in the hallway with a smile on her face, as they loaded her up and took her to her mother’s home. Her mother, 99-year-old Carolyn, is in poor health, so the ride was beyond special for Linda and her sisters.

“It means a whole lot,” Wolfenbarger said.

Ann Petty, Carolyn’s eldest daughter, said care providers told her and her three sisters their mother had only days left.

“They have given us an opportunity for Linda to come spend a day,” Petty said. “With Mama’s condition, this is going to be a very precious day.”

Travis Estes, director of Priority Ambulance in Loudon County, said the service is important to him and his team. Estes said they started transporting people to and from Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations a few years ago. A typical, nonemergency, ambulance ride, he said, is in the hundreds of dollars.

“Be thankful for everything you have, for every moment you have, and every person that you encounter, whether it’s family or people in passing. You never know what mark you’re going to leave on that person,” Estes said.

Quality time with Mom on Thanksgiving

The days ahead will be tough, but Thursday was about spending quality time with their mom and being thankful to be together one more Thanksgiving.

“You think you’re prepared, but when the time comes, you’re not as prepared as you think you are,” Petty said. Even though with her health, her longevity, and we’re at peace with her going to meet her savior … there’s that grip within your heart to say goodbye.

Carolyn, still sharp during a brief interview, said, “I’m happy I’ve got four girls. (I’m) very happy. … I enjoy my girls.”


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