The Maryville Knights of Columbus Council #1339 won the service program award for best council activity in Missouri for the 2017-18 fraternal year at the state convention held April 28 and 29 in Jefferson City.

The knights received the award for their service in operating the Patient Assisted Transport (PAT) van program.

Missouri State Council Director Mike Tesmer and Ron Mathias stand next to Maryville Grand Knight Robert Rice who received the award from State Deputy Joe Rosenthal flanked by Ken Garner and Mike Grudzinski.

The van takes individuals home from the hospital after they are discharged. The knights heard of a need and started the program in 2015.

Prior to the program, clients would take the ambulance home after being released, costing them $250 to $300 as well as tying up emergency equipment and personnel for non-emergency transports.

The knights worked out an agreement with the Nodaway County Ambulance District, volunteering to operate a PAT van after hours and on weekends for a low cost to users of $40 per trip, allowing the ambulances to remain available for emergencies.

There are currently 52 knights who volunteer to help. They operate the van from 6 pm to 6 am during the week and cover the entire weekend. Every three months the knights, who work in pairs, take a week of being on-call to drive the van, rotating to a week of back-up call the following week.

During the first full year, they had a total of 57 calls. The second year, they responded to 105 calls.

The knights applied and were selected from approximately 60 applicants for the award.

Maryville Grand Knight Robert Rice recalled a personal story of transporting a hospice patient home to spend her final moments at peace with her family in a familiar setting, per her last wish.

“When you get there and get someone home, it makes you feel good knowing that you helped someone. We are proud of the program,” Rice stated.

The group will advance to compete for the best council program in the order, which includes all 50 states as well as Canada and Mexico.