RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Flying during a pandemic is nerve-racking for many people, but for families with sick children needing to fly to critical medical treatment, the risk is worth it.
Children’s Flight of Hope is a nonprofit in the Triangle celebrating 30 years. The group helps take the financial burden of flight expenses off families traveling for treatment.
Executive director Pat Nelli said the pandemic created so many new challenges for these families already dealing with so much.
“Our mission delivery was drastically impacted and that was through no fault of ours. As you can imagine, some of our families were too vulnerable to fly so they had to work with their healthcare provider to find another option,” said Nelli.
Children’s Flight of Hope fly’s children from 43 states and 23 counties. A lot of their travel volume is international travel. That completely shut down and really impacted families needing treatment overseas.
Nelli said they were able to help families find other safer options, such as private flights or less travel and telehealth visits.
“We had a young girl who last March was diagnosed with the relapse of her cancer and she is a young girl, I think she’s 6, she’s flown every week through COVID-19 because she was facing a critical diagnosis,” Nelli said.
Children’s Flight of Hope is determined to fly 1,100 missions in 2021. One family told the organization that their help was the difference in them being able to make a mortgage payment, so the financial hardship is very real.
“There words of gratitude and the importance in what we’re doing to save their child. It motivates us to do more and work harder every day and we welcome anyone in the community that wants to be a part of bringing that hope and healing to our families,” said Nelli.
There are so many ways you can help. Nelli said a simple donation goes a long way. Over two dozen families have requested travel assistance in the last six months.