From the President – Spring/Summer 2018

At 8 years old, I was fascinated by the magical worlds created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. “The Cat in the Hat,” “The Lorax,” “Horton Hears a Who” — these were worlds where it was okay to have fun with language, make up entirely new words, and stretch the imagination beyond known bounds. There was always an element of “permissible mischievousness” that was daring, yet caused no harm.

As I grew older, I began to see deeper meanings in the pages of these childhood friends. “The Lorax” had far more to say about protecting the environment than I ever understood as a child. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” wasn’t just a fun story about a green curmudgeon lacking Christmas spirit, but a lesson in how we can all be transformed to see the good in humanity.

One of my Dr. Seuss favorites, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!,” is a straightforward reflection on the journey of life we all take, and it reads in part:

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

As I think about those words today, I am reminded of my 8-year-old friend, Mason. We started flying Mason in February 2017 from his home near Buffalo, NY, to St. Louis so he could receive treatment for regressive clubfeet. The last time he visited, we enjoyed watching him skip through our hangar. Mason’s mom, Carla, says that Mason’s journey through treatment has taken him to new heights—and, despite setbacks, he remains determined. Carla said his dream is to “fly for Southwest Airlines and also fly for Wings of Hope when he has a day off, so he can help other kids get to the hospitals that they need.”

When Mason took a break from running around our hangar, he read me a book he wrote about his journey called, “In My Feet.” Mason has a great understanding that sometimes you don’t soar to high heights when he writes: “I worked hard to get strong, but the surgery didn’t totally fix my feet. My feet just fought against me AGAIN!”

Mason fought back. And through patience, persistence, and a can-do attitude, he prevailed. He closes his book with these words: “After lots of hard work, my feet got very strong. I can walk like any kid now. I may not be the fastest runner or highest jumper, but nothing can stop me now!”

Wings of Hope is proud to be part of Mason’s journey—and the journeys of all the patients we proudly serve. As we walk alongside the Masons of the world, and witness their relentless determination to overcome their struggles, we are all lifted up.

Bret Heinrich,
President & CEO

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