An­gels in our midst

The Covington News - - OPINION -

There are an­gels in this world and be­lieve it or not, they have wings.

The wings hap­pen to be at­tached to the fuse­lage of an air­plane.

There is a won­der­ful group of vol­un­teers who serve a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion called An­gel Flight of Ge­or­gia.

Th­ese are folks who own private air­craft and vol­un­teer to fly pa­tients to and from var­i­ous med­i­cal treat­ments around the South.

For the pi­lots, its a chance to fly and they are able to write off the cost as a char­i­ta­ble do­na­tion. But most of them will tell you that’s not why they do it. They do it be­cause the folks they are fly­ing have no other rea­son­able way to get to a dis­tant med­i­cal fa­cil­ity.

They have also come to the res­cue of folks who are stranded, such as the vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina. The vol­un­teers flew a num­ber of hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sions tak­ing needed sup­plies in and vic­tims out.

They have also flown or­gans for im­me­di­ate trans­plant.

Many of you who read my col­umn on a reg­u­lar ba­sis know that my brother, Dixon, is un­der­go­ing treat­ment for a brain tu­mor. He was rec­om­mended for a pro­gram of­fered

My brother is now un­der the treat­ment of a spe­cial­ist who only deals with his type of brain tu­mor. There was not one in

Ge­or­gia.

through Duke Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

Get­ting him there was a dilemma. A car ride would have in­volved 8 to 10 hours on the road. He’s not at full strength and it would have just worn him out.

Bill Howell, a car dealer in Cum­ming, plugged me in with An­gel Flight of Ge­or­gia. He is a pilot and has flown a num­ber of mis­sions for the group.

Ar­range­ments were made for a vol­un­teer to fly him up to Durham and an­other to get them back a cou­ple of days later.

The pi­lots range from re­tired mil­i­tary and air­line pi­lots to busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives who just en­joy cruis­ing the skies. They un­der­stand that the peo­ple they are trans­port­ing are not well and make ev­ery ef­fort to make them com­fort­able and at ease.

On the first flight, I met my brother and his wife at Peachtree-DeKalb air­port. I was wor­ried about his abil­ity to get in and out of the small plane. He man­aged to am­ble up onto the wing and get in. His dis­mount in­volves him sit­ting down on the wing and just slid­ing down. It’s not pretty, but it works.

Part of my rea­son for writ­ing this is just to say thanks. The ser­vice the pi­lots pro­vide is in­cred­i­ble. My brother is now un­der the treat­ment of a spe­cial­ist who only deals with his type of brain tu­mor. There was not one in Ge­or­gia.

Be­cause of his treat­ment at Duke, we have seen re­mark­able im­prove­ment in his con­di­tion. They also in­still an ex­tra mea­sure of con­fi­dence that they are work­ing ex­tra hard on his be­half.

The other rea­son is to tell you that the ser­vice is there. Treat­ment for can­cer and other dis­eases is very spe­cial­ized. There are adults and chil­dren who have ben­e­fit­ted from care they could not re­ceive in their lo­cal com­mu­nity. Some­times the flights are bring­ing peo­ple to At­lanta from other parts of Ge­or­gia. Other times, like our sit­u­a­tion, they are tak­ing them out of state.

If you know some­one, a child or an adult, who could ben­e­fit from air trans­porta­tion for med­i­cal treat­ment, give them a call.

In­for­ma­tion on the pro­gram is avail­able at www.angelf­light-ga.org or by call­ing (770) 452-7958.

I don’t know who came up with the name, but they are in­deed an­gels and I’m cer­tainly glad they’re will­ing to carry folks in earnest need on a winged flight through the heav­ens.

Har­ris Black­wood

Colum­nist

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