NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — From celebrities to entrepreneurs, they've all chipped in to help Rhonda Clark start a rideshare service for the disabled and elderly.
Clark started Able & Ready two years ago with one thing in mind, to give people like her a chance to live with independence. Clark was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. It's a disorder that limits your mobility over time, but ask Clark and she'll tell you the same thing she tells everyone.
"I always say I have cerebral palsy, but it doesn't have me," Clark said.
That drive is what keeps her moving forward. The only problem is that without a driver, her car's backseat is as far as she goes. Her close friend who has her own disability was stuck stranded without a car, but Clark managed to track down someone willing to drive her to work.
"She had her car in the shop a couple of weeks before that and she had to turn down jobs because she couldn't get there," Clark said.
Clark has always known there to be a need for reliable transportation all hours of the day but says the general public may not understand. She says we can't just assume the only reason the disabled or elderly need to get around is for a doctor's appointment or work.
One close family friend recognized the need themselves as they drove Clark from place to place. The same friend nominated Clark and her company for the Lemon-AID Foundation grant geared toward small businesses. The foundation was created by Marcus Lemonis who is best known for his long-running show CNBC's "The Profit."
"My goal is to keep Main Street USA alive and well during the economic troubles that COVID-19 has brought to our small business owners. Helping talented entrepreneurs, particularly women and minorities who simply haven't had the same resources and guidance available to them as many of us have," Lemonis said.
Clark was shocked to learn Lemonis was interested. He called and asked if Clark had a website, which at the time she was still gathering donations through her GoFundMe page. She instead sent Lemonis a business plan and the very next day Clark found a $10,000 to her GoFundMe account. Not long after, another $10,000 was contributed by actress Kristen Bell. Another $5,000 came from a business partner of Lemonis.
"I was like Woah, okay. I don't know these people," Clark said.
The truth is, she doesn't have to. They believe in her and Clark knows that's what's important. Her goal is $1 million to buy and staff four vans by September. It's been slow, but she's beginning to see the company take shape. She has the drive and direction. All that's left is making this reality.
You can donate to Clark's GoFundMe account by clicking on this link.
In October 2020, the Lemon-AID Foundation began with a $50 million pledge for providing opportunities to small businesses and underserved communities. Since their inception, close to $3 million has been deployed.