On June 8th, Patient Airlift Services (PALS) held their annual Above & Beyond Long Island event.
The goals of the event are to recognize and thank the volunteer aviation community as well as on-the-road drivers who also donate their time and resources. Without their unstinting support, there would be no PALS and no free PALS flights. The Talon Air Hangar located at the Republic Jet Center in Farmingdale which was donated to PALS was decked out for the party; and what started out as an empty airplane hangar turned into a beautiful gala complete with cocktails, dinner and dancing.
PALS had special guests who joined with PALS staff to share with the attendees just how meaningful a PALS flight can be.
First on the program was PALS passenger, Brooklyn, accompanied by her grandmother Lourdes and her brother Jeter. Lourdes explained to the guests that Brooklyn’s journey as a burn victim has been a very long and painful road and they are thankful for the 26 PALS flights that have transported Brooklyn to her treatment and back home. PALS Executive Director, Eileen Minogue, explained to everyone that arranging those 26 flights costs $7800 worth of mission coordination funds, not including the pilots’ contribution.
The second special guest was PALS passenger, Wes, accompanied by his mom Krista. We know them so well. Wes is a patient who has benefited from 132 free PALS flights. Wes has neuroblastoma and travels between Virginia and New York City. Our mission cost for Wes equates to over $33,000 since his first flight in 2011, excluding pilot contribution, but as Wes told the audience in his own words, “PALS meant we did not have to give up”. It was a heartfelt experience for all attendees to hear from this patient, whose first-hand experience makes the effort so worth-while.
PALS then recognized one of our contributors, Sean Peters, who is this year’s Flight of Hope award recipient, and thanked him and his family for their many years spent championing the PALS mission. It not only takes a huge volunteer base to get our flights off the ground but also a donor base because these flights don’t just magically happen. Sean, in addition to being a PALS supporter is also an active advocate, helping to connect PALS with people that are passionate about helping others.
At the event, Sean told a story about accompanying PALS board member and volunteer PALS pilot, Joe Howley, on a PALS for Patriots mission and how it really affected him to watch how the PALS for Patriots program gave wounded veterans a lift and a moment of normalcy; and in the audience was Matt James, one of the veterans on that trip. Matt was so excited to hear that Sean was being honored that he traveled from Virginia to attend the event and join us. Matt spoke and recalled how deeply and incredibly the trip affected him. He is now a stanch supporter of the PALS for Patriots program and the PALS mission.
It was a wonderful evening spent celebrating PALS charitable aviation community and sharing our mission with all of our friends.