116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Sheryl and Pat O’Connell both had long, successful careers in the Cedar Rapids community. But the O’Connells aren’t ones to just sit around during retirement.
Pat had worked in the lumber business, starting at his family's wholesale company, Loftus Distributing Wholesale Lumber, when he was young.
When Loftus closed in 2005 Pat worked at ReVosWel Truss and Lumber Co. as the yard supervisor. After 40 years in the lumber business, he was ready for a change.
Sheryl worked for Linn County Mental Health and Disability Services for 35 years and retired from the county in 2016.
Since leaving Linn County employment, she worked at the Cedar Memorial Flower Shop and then Manor Care (now Promedica).
Through working at Promedica, Sheryl said she saw there was a need for more non-emergency medical transportation in the area.
And from there the idea for their new business was born. It would have them on the go but helping others, so they believed the time was right.
O'Connell's Transport offers rides to doctors’ visits, for hospital admissions and discharges, dialysis treatment and other general transportation needs around the community.
“After some thoughtful planning and research, we purchased a wheelchair accessible van in 2020. and plans were put into motion to make this business a reality,” Sheryl O’Connell recalled.
O’Connell noted they give rides — one-way and round-trip — to individuals still living in their own homes, as well as those in elderly care communities and rehab facilities.
The couple officially launched the business on March 1, 2021.
“Pat started out driving the first van and I was able to join him with the purchase of our second van on March 1 of this year,” she said.
The timing worked out well during the pandemic and in spring 2021 medical facilities began taking medical appointments again.
To this day, O’Connell said they wear masks while driving.
Owners: Sheryl and Pat O’Connell
Phone: (319) 550-9105
“It was kind of a challenge to find an insurance company that would insure this type of company's vans in the beginning, but we were able to find one after quite a bit of searching,” she said.
Reservations can be made by phone, email or filling out a form on their website. Rides are available around Cedar Rapids as well as out of town, all at flat-rate fees.
The response so far has shown the couple that Sheryl’s notion that they could fill a need in the community was accurate.
“It’s been unbelievably positive since we started,” she said.
One ride involved a 93-year-old patient from a local nursing facility.
“On the way to the appointment, Pat learned that he had worked at Iowa Manufacturing Co. for forty-plus years,” Sheryl said. “So on the way back from his appointment back to the facility, Pat asked him if he would like to see how that area has changed since the days when he worked there ... .
“So they did a little tour of that area, and the patient was telling Pat what used to be in each spot of what is now used by Mount Mercy University as an athletic complex.”
So far, the business consists of just the two of them driving and they are not planning on expanding, Sheryl said. For now, the O’Connells are, quite literally, enjoying the ride.
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