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Backstage with the ‘Cos’

Ann’s Choice VIPs get one-on-one time with the star

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

The only thing better than seeing comedian Bill Cosby perform live is to sit beside him and share a laugh. Folks who live at Ann s Choice, the Erickson Living community in Bucks County, Pa., do just that. When Cos performs locally, transportation department driver John Baines arranges for residents attending the show to enjoy a backstage meet and greet with the star. How does he pull this off? Simple. He and Bill Cosby are best of friends. They were born just two doors away from one another in Philadelphia, played together as kids, and have stayed in close touch throughout their lives.

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Baines arranged the first meet and greet in 2007. Lancaster s American Music Theatre holds about 3,000 people, he says. But the only people who met with Bill before the program were the 37 members of the Ann s Choice group. Cosby has told him, If you re coming along with the group, I ll do this. While Baines willingness to share his special friendship amazes residents, they also say such generosity fits his character. I think it s a wonder John [Baines] does this, says Pat Prate. She met Cosby last February. It was quite an experience, and I wouldn t have had it if I didn t live at Ann s Choice. John s so thrilled that he can take us backstage, says Helen Cannon. He enjoys us meeting Bill Cosby as much as we do.

Day-to-day kindness

Always upbeat, unfailingly kind, and quick with a quip, Baines, a Baptist deacon, says he aims to make everyone s day a little brighter. He finds ample opportunities for that. Besides driving a campus shuttle, Baines taxis residents to the airport and to doctor and hospital appointments. And he routinely shuttles visitors from campus parking lots to event venues when the Ann s Choice sales team has a luncheon or event. Residents and visitors alike appreciate his outgoing personality. And they applaud that he s so family oriented. He loves to talk about his children and grandchildren, says Dee Miller. And he wears his Phillies hat all summer long, she adds. He s a real fan, and I love that. He s so full of life, remembers your name, and always has a smile when you board the shuttle. Mae Lukens, who Baines has driven to the airport and to Center City, feels safe and comfortable when he s at the wheel. But that s a trait of all our drivers, she says.

Curb service, Ann s Choice style

It s no surprise that last October there was already a waiting list of Ann s Choice residents signed up to attend Bill Cosby s performance at Keswick Theatre, in Glenside, this April. That s because transportation department employee John Baines, who grew up with Cosby, has arranged for them to personally meet the comedian before the show. That evening, Baines will let another transportation employee drive the bus; he and his wife Patricia will sit with residents and enjoy the ride. The Ann s Choice transportation department offers trips and excursions to suit every interest and budget. And residents never hassle with driving or parking because a competent, professional Ann s Choice driver is always at the wheel.