By Alexia Helmer
“Ambucs’ mission statement is, ‘Creating mobility and independence for people with disabilities,’” Jeff Dawdy told me as we discussed his involvement in Ambucs. “Ambucs is an acronym for American Business Club … a service club not all that different to the Lions Club or Kiwanis or Rotary.” Dawdy has been a member of Ambucs for about five years now after a coworker asked him to take part in the Jacksonville Ambucs Golf Outing one year. “I didn’t even really know what they were other than a service club,” Dawdy recalls. “As the day went on I learned more about what they did and ended up knowing several people that were already involved…about a month later I hit the ground running and was helping with a wheelchair ramp.”
Ambucs is a national organization that was chartered in Jacksonville in 1964 and currently has about 30 members in its Jacksonville chapter who strive to serve their community by making it more accessible. Through various programs and service opportunities, Ambucs finds ways to deal with other accessibility issues, like building wheelchair ramps for those in need. Another way that Ambucs is making the community more accessible is through their AmTrykes program, which provides a different and more modern kind of bicycle to those with disabilities.
“AmTrykes are therapeutic tricycles for people with all types of disabilities including wounded warriors, children, and adults,” Dawdy explained. AmTrykes are built for each person depending on their disability and they are able to be operated by hand, foot, or both, allowing for a person to improve their coordination and fitness levels.
When thinking of the different ways in which various service clubs help their community, it becomes apparent that a lot of people don’t know the kinds of projects that these clubs have to offer. Dawdy remarked on how little the Jacksonville community is aware of AmTrykes because currently, Ambucs is awarding only one Tryke per year and they want the community to know that AmTrykes are available to all of those seeking a way to enhance their mobility.
Dawdy continued to discuss with me the ways in which he’s become aware of the kinds of service these local clubs continue to provide for their community: “Once a year they have a joint service club luncheon … there’s anywhere from 200 to 300 people there, and each group stands up and says, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve done this year.’ When you start to listen to what all of these groups do in town, you have to sit back and think, ‘What if these groups weren’t here?’ … [Service Clubs] all have that one purpose and it’s usually to improve the quality of life for yourself, your family, and your neighbors.”
On June 2, Ambucs will be hosting their annual Golf Outing to raise more funds to help those in need. Strive to support your local service clubs because, as Dawdy states, “Money raised local stays local.”
Visit www.amtrykestore.org for more information on Amtrykes and be sure to check out Ambucs of Jacksonville on Facebook.