The co-founder of the Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society has hung up his keys and retired from the organization.
Surrey’s George Garrett – an award-winning reporter and author – announced his retirement, effective Aug. 31.
The cancer drivers program launched in 2016, and since then, a news release notes, the society has recruited close to 200 drivers and dispatchers to help get cancer patients to and from appointments with “free, safe, timely transportation.”
In total, the society has made 58,886 patient trips and logged more than 1.7-million kilometres.
“Put simply, it wouldn’t be possible for us to have supported so many cancer patients if it weren’t for George Garrett,” Bob Smith, president of the society, said.
“His bold vision for a level of care and support for those facing this debilitating illness, combined with his passion and energy, enabled us to grow rapidly to meet the needs of cancer patients for access to care. We will always be grateful for the legacy George shares with us and wish him the best as he steps down from his day-to-day commitments.”
While insisting that he’s not stepping away from the organization entirely – “I’m what they call a life member now,” he said – Garrett told Peace Arch News he decided to take a back seat now because he feels the society is in a solid position financially, and is in good hands moving forward.
Garrett noted that he was chiefly involved with fundraising, and with $1.3-million raised in the last four years – including enough to get the group through this year and well into 2021 – “my fundamental role was pretty much over.”
Garrett is leaving the organization with some parting gifts, however. According to the society, Garrett – who spent more than four decades in radio, primarily for CKNW – has left the society’s board with “a substantial transfer of securities” that will immediately benefit the group’s operation.
To help in the future, the release notes, Garrett has also left a “legacy pledge” in his will that is intended to be used to help launch the society’s Legacy Giving Program, which will aim to assist the cancer-driver program in staying financially sustainable well into the future.
He said he will encourage people to leave legacy pledges in their wills for the program, as he has done.
“Hopefully, they’ll have to wait awhile before they collect,” he quipped.
Garrett says the work he did with founding president Garth Pinton and the late John MacInnes was a challenge in the early stages but cancer patients and their families became aware of the service and it quickly grew from there.
While marking the society’s fourth anniversary earlier this year, Garrett told Black Press Media that the program’s growth in Surrey “has been remarkable.”
“It’s a long way from where we started,” he said at the time.
For more on the program, visit www.volunteercancerdrivers.ca