Navajo Flight Marks Beginning of Expanded Reach for MAT Program

In late August, Wings of Hope officially extended our flight radius for the Medical Relief & Air Transport (MAT) Program from 600 to 900 miles from our St. Louis-area headquarters with the inaugural flight of our recently acquired Navajo. Our first passenger was 14-year-old Joseph from Tulsa, OK. Joseph was playing football last year when an unfortunate hit broke his leg. Most of the time, a break heals on its own and it’s back to normal activities in a matter of weeks, especially for a healthy young athlete. But Joseph’s leg healed poorly — so much so that he was having trouble walking. Local doctors had reached the limits of their expertise and Joseph’s mom, Lisa, worried that without proper treatment her son might need knee and ankle replacements before he turned 30. As luck would have it, a pediatrician learned of Joseph’s case and recommended mom and son see a specialist at Shriners Hospital for Children in St. Louis. Lisa and Joseph drove the seven-hour trek from Tulsa for the first time in January 2020. The day they returned from their trip, Lisa saw a doctor about pain in her knee and found out she had cancer. Treatment involved chemotherapy and surgery that left a rod in her right leg, making a repeat trip to Shriners by car almost impossible. Fortune struck again when Lisa learned about Wings of Hope.

“Wings of Hope came to our rescue. With both of us having mobility issues, it was a struggle,” she said.

Since then, Wings of Hope has flown the duo four times roundtrip to Shriners. Joseph’s leg is healing well and all signs point to a full recovery. After receiving a stem-cell transplant, Lisa’s on the mend too. Both mother and son are grateful to Wings of Hope for making their journey to recovery a little easier.

“We’re on the right track now, thanks to Wings of Hope helping us get back and forth,” Lisa said.

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