It’s easy for people who have been involved with Angel Flight South Central to understand how our organization impacts lives. Donors give because they know their dollars directly benefit people in need. Pilots volunteer to fly patients for free because they can do what they love and help people at the same time. Many patients have a hard time imagining how they would access the treatment they need without Angel Flight South Central.
Cohen is a sweet two-year-old boy who has been flying as an AFSC passenger since he was a newborn. You may have recently seen a photo of Cohen and his mom Kimberly with volunteer pilot Rob Garrett. When Rob celebrated his 100th mission, he flew Cohen to treatment in North Richland Hills. Cohen lives with his parents Kimberly and Josh, and his sister Emery, who is four. The family lives in Pampa, Texas, which is an hour northeast of Amarillo.
Cohen was born with bilateral clubfeet, a condition that occurs in less than 200,000 children per year. The family’s pediatrician referred Cohen to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Lubbock, TX. For Kimberly and Cohen, this would require a six-hour round-trip drive for each appointment. At the time, he was the closest doctor trained to treat clubfoot.
Kimberly left Cohen’s first appointment with the orthopedic surgeon feeling even more lost and confused about the best method of treatment for her baby. So many questions were left unanswered. Would Cohen be able to walk like some of the children she had seen in her parent groups? How many casts would he need? How frequently would he need to see the surgeon?
As a single-income family, considering a specialist hundreds of miles from their home was really not an option. But Kimberly couldn’t kick the feeling that Cohen needed something different. So, she did what any worried parent would do: she hit the internet and started researching. In her research, she found online support groups for parents of children with clubfoot. It was through one such group that she met Lauren, and the two quickly became long-distance friends.
In the parent support groups, Kimberly asked about recommendations for a specialist to treat Cohen in either the Dallas-Fort Worth area or the Oklahoma City area. Dr. Lund in North Richland Hills was recommended by many. The drive from Pampa to North Richland Hills would take five hours each way, if they didn’t have to stop. With a newborn and a two-year-old, Kimberly knew the drive would take much longer than that and be more than a one-day trip.
“Having only one income, traveling 5+ hours with a newborn, hotels, gas, food and multiple stops for nursing and diaper changes had me so worried,” Kimberly said. “I kept thinking maybe it would be best financially to stay with the first doctor despite my unsettled feelings. I knew God was saying, ‘No, trust me, it will work out.’ That’s when Lauren told me about Angel Flight South Central.”
Cohen took his first Angel Flight when he was nine days old. With the high possibility of infection, a commercial flight wouldn’t have been ideal for Kimberly and Cohen. Not only did Angel Flight save her time and money, but the private flight protected Cohen from diseases and viruses. The choice was clear. Pilot Rob Garrett flew Cohen on that first flight two years ago. Since then, Cohen has traveled on 13 missions to and from treatment with various AFSC pilots. He recently flew with Rob again, and helped celebrate Rob’s 100thmission.
“I can’t say it enough of how grateful we are for AFSC,” Kimberly said. “We truly appreciate the volunteers and the entire organization. AFSC has made a tremendous difference. It took the stress away of having to travel back and forth with a newborn. It helped financially, and I have never met more compassionate pilots.”
We are proud to serve families like Cohen’s through donated flights from our pilots. Thank you for your generous support of our organization!