Challenge Air, founded in 1993, was created to give medically fragile children the gift of flight by allowing them to be co-pilot and see the world from a new point of view. Every year, Challenge Air hosts “Fly Days” in a variety of states in which the families of these awesome kids can come and enjoy a day of flight! Challenge Air believes that by eliminating the belief that they are limited, the children can grow to their full potential. They are given the opportunity to find courage within themselves and build in areas where they lack self-esteem. They want the children to see that if they can fly a plane they can do anything!
On October 19th, our Angels of Care team attended the Mesquite, Texas Fly Day along with some very special guests! Heather along with her sons, Dax and Aden, decided to give flying a try and participated in the Fly Day experience. Dax, 10, has both Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Common Variable Immunodeficiency while big brother and is always excited for a new adventure alongside his big brother. Equipped with years of first-hand knowledge and experience, Heather decided to advocate for the medically fragile community in a new way by joining the Angels of Care Corporate Office team.
When they arrived, they were greeted by a large crowd of families and volunteers, all playing the various games, visiting booths, and awaiting their turn for their much anticipated flight. Planes were taking off every few minutes and it was a spectacular sight. This event served as Heather’s family’s second time ever in an airplane and their first time in a small plane. They were expecting a “cool ride”, but the flight exceeded all of their expectations. As they exited the hangar, a crowd of people applauded and cheered as they were escorted by their pilot and volunteers. The pilot walked the boys around their plane and explained some of the engineering and how the plane was able to fly. A few photo ops later, they were headed for the sky!
While in the air, Dax had the opportunity to fly the plane, after some coaching, with his mom and brother in the back seat. Heather excitedly shared after landing that Dax actually piloted the plane for about 80% of the time, the pilot even put his hands on the ceiling to show that he wasn’t flying. In flight, Dax told his mom that he wanted to be a pilot when he got older and this life-changing experience made him feel like he could do anything. Once back on the ground, the family was greeted by a cheering crowd and paparazzi-style photographers. It was truly a great moment.
In an interview with Heather, she told us a little bit more about their overall experience. Her family loved Fly Day and cannot wait to participate again. While at Fly Day, she had the opportunity to speak with an Angels of Care mom and form a connection that only parents with medically fragile children can form. Meeting with other parents offers a lesson in gratitude and a new perspective that everyone can benefit from. Heather encourages other families that are a part of the Angels of Care community to go to next year’s Challenge Air Fly Day whether you’re a parent of a medically fragile child or simply an advocate for this incredible community. It is truly a life changing experience that you won’t regret.