Founder and Chairman Emeritus, James H. Stevens, Jr. relives the beginning:
“His name was John, an eight year old adopted Korean boy suffering from a rare heart abnormality preventing his blood from getting enough oxygen. He was going to die without an operation. Beyond no health insurance and adoptive parents experiencing financial hard times, the hospital simply did not have the expertise to perform the surgery John needed to live. A surgeon and hospital in another state agreed to save this child’s live at no cost to the family, if only John could get to their facility.
I offered to fly him. I was shocked to see the blue color of John’s skin. As he was carried to the plane he looked into my eyes and with the biggest grin you ever saw gave me a salute and said, “I’m ready for my first flight, Captain!” During the flight he was cradled in his mother’s arms as she administered oxygen. After landing he brightened up and asked, “Can I have my wings now?”
His mother was clearly at a loss for words, and not knowing what to do or to say simply gave me a long bear hug with tears streaming down her face. Without a word they left and I was hooked. That day I flew over nine hours and not once did I regret my decision.”
Since that day in August 1995, Angel Flight Central (then Wings Over Mid-America) with the help of 325 volunteer pilots, have flown just under 10 million nautical miles and have helped transport nearly 30,000 passengers. As we head into the future, it will be the generosity of our volunteer pilots, donors and supporters that will enable us to “Give Hope Wings” providing free flights for people in need”.
Thank you for 25 wonderful years!