'It’s really special to be a part of someone’s fight to survive.'
She's a smiley 1-year-old who got to ride in a private plane after having surgery in Ohio.
She flew with her family from Cincinnati Children's Hospital to where she lives in New York state for a grand total of ... $0.
Yep, that's right. Lakelynn's family didn't have to shell out a penny for a service that would make a major dent in most wallets.
Lakelynn's ride was courtesy of Wings Flights of Hope, a nonprofit that gets patients from point A to point B when they need it most.
Wings provides free air transportation for patients and their families to and from medical centers so that distance never prevents someone from receiving the best care possible.
The New York-based nonprofit makes over 500 flights each year.
“There’s no better purpose to get into your plane [than to] take someone to a place where they can get better," pilot Joe DeMarco, founder of the group, says.
The volunteer pilots at Wings fill a critical void: They save lives by saving time.
For many patients in dire circumstances, time is not on their side.
“If we don’t take them, they’re not getting their organs — they’re not getting their heart, they’re not getting their lungs."
Wings is hugely important for those in need of transplants because there's such a small window of opportunity for a patient to receive care, the nonprofit's website explains. Patients who live in rural areas, for example, might be a great distance away from a major airport.
DeMarco said he can get patients to their destinations much faster than if a family were to fly commercial, and that can truly be a life-or-death situation.
“If we don’t take them, they’re not getting their organs — they’re not getting their heart, they’re not getting their lungs," he says, noting the service is also vital for patients who can't fly commercial due to their weakened immunity or they can't drive on their own because of doctor's orders.
Wings does whatever it can to make life easier for families in need.
Other flight services that do similar work can charge several thousands of dollars per ride, according to DeMarco, but Wings makes sure families are always taken care of, any place, any time — even for pre-op and post-op appointments.
“It’s really special to be a part of someone’s fight to survive.”
To families like Lakelynn's, Wings has made a world of difference.
Getting from point A to point B is not always easy. But fortunately, folks in need have DeMarco and his team of selfless pilots to make a tough journey much more manageable.
Check out Upworthy's Original video on Wings Flights of Hope below: