Innovator: Taft Foley III

How many of us have looked at the growing cases of COVID-19 in our communities and have asked ourselves, “What can I do to help?” 18-year-old Taft Foley III turned that thought into action, launching his own mobile COVID-19 testing lab.

Foley got the urge to help after watching videos of 9/11, which happened before he was born. “The one thing that stood out to me the most was that as one of the towers fell and the dust rose, you could see people running away from the fire and danger. But there were also people running towards the building, ”he said. Adding: “This scene deeply influenced my sense of duty, honor and courage.”

Last summer, at just 17, Foley III became Texas’ youngest EMT. He has treated many desperately ill COVID-19 patients in the back of an ambulance. “It was pretty scary,” he says. “They were in very bad shape. People were almost unable to breathe at all. “

After completing the clinical portion of EMT training, Foley III was required to take a COVID-19 test. He noted the 3-4 hour waits at state testing centers and the 2 weeks it took to get his results. “During those 2 weeks, I was quarantined. I said, ‘There must be a better way.’ “

He raised $ 60,000 (by selling his collection of vintage comics and video games, doing some gardening work in the neighborhood, among other things), which his father matched, and used the money to buy pick up a van and test supplies. While finishing his final year of high school, he spends 20 hours a week working in his Texas Mobile Medical Labs vehicle, bringing 15-minute COVID-19 tests to anyone in the Houston area who needs them. He charges a fee of $ 150 to those who can pay. A portion of this fee goes to fund free testing for the elderly, the homeless and veterans in the community. To date, the company has provided over 4,000 free tests. “I would like to think I have a big impact – making the Houston area a little bit safer,” he says.

As for life after high school, it has an impressive list of potential colleges: Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton. “I would like to become a trauma surgeon or plastic surgeon,” he says. “As long as I can save lives and help other people, I will be a happy person.”

WebMD Exclusive: Our 2021 Health Hero Gets Personal

Who is your hero?

My father, because he managed to break the cycle of poverty in which he was born to become a successful person.

If there was anything you could do to help others, what would you do?

I would start educational programs to mentor and mentor youth, to help break the cycle of poverty in African American communities.

What is your dream job?

I would feel quite accomplished and happy if I could improve the lives of others using medicine.

What are you doing to relax?

I like to sleep, read and talk to my friends.

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Taft Foley III, high school student, founder of Texas Mobile Medical Labs.

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