RIDE417 to give students free, safe rides home

Published by: The Standard: Missouri State University
Author: Cortlynn Stark, Staff Reporter
Date: January 16, 2017

587d6543a512d.imageThe next time you find yourself downtown or at a party without a ride, you won’t have to walk or risk driving with an intoxicated friend. You can call RIDE417 to get home safe and free.

RIDE417 is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers. Students can ask for a ride home from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during the school year.

Ally Walsh and Jami McConnell, both graduates of Evangel University, founded RIDE417 in the spring of 2016.

Walsh said RIDE417 has a two-fold mission designed for Springfield university students.

“One would be just to provide an alternative to risky transportation,” Walsh said. “Like for someone on an uncomfortable date and they want to leave. Or a student at a party and their friends are leaving and they want to leave.”

 

It’s essentially dedicated to providing a safe alternative to drunk driving. Walsh also said that “paying for transportation isn’t always an option,” which is why RIDE417 is free.

Now, in the spring semester of 2017, RIDE417 is ready to recruit student volunteers.

Walsh said students can volunteer as drivers or navigators. General members are required to work five nights a semester and attend team meetings. They will also have room for students to get involved at a higher level with a few executive positions.

The organization will use rental cars instead of having volunteers drive personal cars.

Walsh said RIDE417 will cost about $75,000 a year. Funding will come from a variety of sources, including an $11,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

“Funding will come from grants (which we already received one from Community Foundation of the Ozarks), corporate sponsors, fundraising (like our crowdfund that we’ll hopefully be launching at MSU), donations and student support through SGA initiatives,” Walsh said.

This is also a way for students to meet students from other Springfield universities. Walsh said it is for students at all Springfield colleges including Evangel, Ozarks Technical College and Drury.

“I’m really excited about seeing our students work together in a collaborative way,” Walsh said.

Walsh said she first heard about the idea from Missouri University, which runs a similar program called STRIPES, or, Supportive Tigers Riding In Pursuit of Ensuring Safety. She and McConnell then went to Texas A&M University for a national safe ride conference. CARPOOL, the first safe-ride program, was founded at Texas A&M.

Walsh and McConnell were juniors when they started planning the business. They were semifinalists at a business competition at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and won $1,000 in seed money to start the organization.

She expects RIDE417 to be up and driving around mid-semester. Currently, Walsh is figuring out the kinks with insurance and rental cars.

Walsh said one of the hardest parts of the startup has been putting down roots and not getting discouraged.

“We’ve had this idea for a while,” Walsh said. “Springfield is such an awesome community for entrepreneurship and innovation. You have to get to know the right people, and I’ve met a lot of people to help. One of the hardest parts is not getting discouraged.”

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