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Helping Wilson County’s Senior Riders Get Around Town

From Mount Juliet to Lebanon to Watertown, Wilson Rides and its team of volunteer drivers is making transportation easier for older adults.

There’s no getting around it: getting around can be a challenge for older adults who no longer drive.

And as Wilson County has grown, so has the demand for reliable transportation for the seniors who live here. The emergence of rideshares has alleviated some of the burden, but those services can be expensive. 

That’s what prompted local leaders, including Maggie Lea of Home Instead and Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto, to approach the Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce's Healthcare Roundtable about developing a program to address those needs.

By late 2020, those discussions led to the establishment of Wilson Rides, a nonprofit organization that utilizes volunteer drivers to provide rideshare transportation for eligible Wilson County seniors, ages 55 and up.

Gaye Lynn Wilson, who was hired as executive director in early 2021, oversaw the ramp-up to the first official ride on May 21 of that year. The passenger was none other than Wilson’s mom, Gloria. The driver: Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce President, Mark Hinesely.

“Mom was the reason why I got involved in this and she’s still a participant,” says Wilson. “She gave up driving in 2019 but was still very active, and I was trying to figure out how she could remain that way while I worked a full-time job.”

The devastating tornado of March 2020, followed by the pandemic a few days later, were motivating factors as well.

“That’s when I realized the importance of keeping seniors safe and engaged,” says Wilson. “Life goes on but for seniors who lack transportation, that can mean isolation and missing important appointments. Wilson Rides helps alleviate those concerns.”

Wilson says that there are many heartwarming stories of Wilson Rides facilitating relationships, including a driver and rider who had never met previously, discovering they grew up at the same time in the same Wisconsin town. Drivers are the driving force behind Wilson Rides’ success. “They’re the ones who establish relationships with seniors and keep them connected to the community,” says Wilson. “Most of them are retirees and have probably had similar experiences with their own parents and grandparents.”

Detailed information for current and prospective riders and drivers, and a donation portal, are available at

  • Gaye Lynn Wilson, executive director. Photo credit Danny Mark Photography
  • Del Webb in Providence, site of Wilson Rides's first ride.  Photo credit: Danny Mark Photography
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