Patients Get Ride Home for the Holidays - 8 News NOW

Patients Get Ride Home for the Holidays

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LAS VEGAS -- Thanksgiving is a time to cherish family and home. However, some elderly and frail Las Vegans needed some help getting home.

American Medical Response, AMR, spent the day providing free transport in their traditional Home for the Holidays program.

Sometimes the patients are elderly, other times they are younger, bedridden or handicapped.

They come from all races and religions, but there is a common thread each Thanksgiving: they all want and receive a happy homecoming.

Thanksgiving and tradition go hand-in-hand for AMR paramedic Damon Schilling.

"Home for the Holidays is an opportunity for us to give back to the community that has given us so much," Schilling said.

For 11 years, Schilling has spent his Thanksgiving morning helping patients who live in nursing homes or care homes, giving them a free ride to see their family.

Michelle Kern-Pena was his first transport of the day.

"We here understand that family is the core to everything that we do," Schilling said.

The AMR crew drove Kern-Pena home for Thanksgiving. As the ambulance turns on their street, two of her children are already anxiously waiting for her in the front yard.

Kern-Pena is always with family on Thanksgiving, healthy and happy, but this year was tough.

"About 8 and a half months ago, she had a serious intestinal infection, and they think that is what caused it. They diagnosed her with Guillain-Barré syndrome," her mother LaDawn Kern said.

It is a rare nerve disorder that has weakened Kern-Pena to the point where she is now a quadriplegic. The fact that she is here surrounded by loved ones tugs at the heartstrings.

"Just the appreciation of having Michelle with us," her father Michael Kern said.

Emotions are running high for everyone because this is the first time Kern-Pena is home since she became ill.

"And the appreciation to AMR," her father said.

On this day, where we all count our blessings, Michelle has gratitude and appreciation for her husband, her children, her parents, and AMR.

"I just appreciate you guys helping out and getting this done for us. Thank you so much," Kern-Pena said.

Michelle is thankful her health is improving, and her recovery could take up to 14 months.

AMR has been sponsoring the Home for the Holidays program for more than 30 years benefiting more than 2,000 patients.

At the end of the day, they drive the patients back to their facilities, and it is all free of charge.

AMR also runs the program at Christmas time.

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