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His Wings Aviation Ministries Brings $520,000 in Relief to the Gulf Coast

Scott Welch arrives in Baton Rouge, La., with a full load of medical supplies.A unique partnership formed in literally a few hours led to three flights between Montoursville and the Katrina-stricken Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Alabama, bringing relief in the form of urgently needed medicine and medical supplies. A total of $520,000 in supplies had been delivered as of Friday, with a fourth flight planned for later that day.

The partnership between His Wings Aviation Ministries and CitiHope International of Andes, N.Y., was formed Friday, Sept. 2, when Paul Moore from CitiHope called Susan Sweeny, a mission coordinator from Angel Flight East and told her he needed transportation for medical supplies to Baton Rouge, La. Sweeny then contacted Scott Welch from His Wings (also a diesel technology instructor at Pennsylvania College of Technology) and asked if an aircraft was available. Within 24 hours, the first flight was en route.

Moore traveled to Williamsport that Saturday, bringing half the cargo from CitiHope’s warehouse in the Catskill (N.Y.) Mountains. The plane stopped in Winchester, Va., to pick up cargo from Project HOPE and, then, in Roanoke, Va., to pick up the remaining cargo from Carilion Health Systems. With the aircraft packed full, Paul Moore and a second passenger, Dr. Dennis Hancock, happily placed medical supplies on their laps rather than leave a single item behind. The wholesale value of the donated items delivered was in excess of $165,000.

“We couldn’t have fit another hypodermic needle in the aircraft,” remarked Welch, who piloted the first flight. Vans from First Church of the Nazarene, Baton Rouge, were at the airport waiting to unload the precious cargo. Local physicians even met the airplane, offering to help unload and escort the relief to Earl K. Long Charity Hospital. So desperate was the need for supplies that the shipment received a police escort from the airport to the hospital.

A second flight carrying additional medical relief valued at over $220,000 arrived Saturday, Sept. 10. These flights carried medicine and medical supplies donated by Carilion and Project HOPE.

Rosealee LeDee, united with her father at the Altoona Airport.The highlight of the second trip was returning a lost 7-year-old girl to her father in Altoona. During the storm, Rosealee LeDee of Atmore, Ala., became separated from her family. Unable to locate his daughter, LeDee frantically searched for her from shelter to shelter along the Alabama coast. Rescue workers found him a week later, homeless and penniless, and arranged transportation for him to stay with relatives in Pennsylvania. A few days after arriving in Pennsylvania, Rosealee was found. After receiving a call from a rescue worker that his daughter was found, LeDee walked into the Youth Outreach in Altoona and asked if anyone knew how to get his daughter to Pennsylvania.

Knowing that the DeGol Organization in Altoona has several corporate aircraft, James Baldwin of Youth Outreach called and inquired about getting transportation for Rosealee. Baldwin was referred to Carol Klementovich of the DeGol Jet Center in Montoursville, who ran out onto the ramp and flagged down Welch as he was starting up his engines for the second trip to Baton Rouge. Welch agreed to try to find Rosealee on his way home.

At 8 p.m. that Sunday, LeDee was reunited with his daughter at the Altoona Airport.

A third flight left Montoursville on Tuesday night (Sept. 13), loaded with tetanus/diphtheria vaccinations desperately needed by the Gulfport Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, Miss. That flight landed in Baton Rouge at 11:30 p.m. This unique relief effort is privately funded by charitable individuals, volunteers and pharmaceutical companies. This alliance is the only one of its kind that has provided supplies and relief to the Earl K. Long Charity Medical Center in Baton Rouge. Similarly, Gulfport Memorial Hospital issued an urgent need for tetanus/diphtheria vaccinations. CitiHope International and His Wings responded immediately to procure and deliver the supplies more than 1,000 miles across the country.

His Wings Aviation Ministries thank the following for their help in supporting the relief effort to the Gulf Coast in this time of need:

First Church of the Nazarene, Baton Rouge,La. Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park,Ill., and Alta Vista,Va. Angel Flight East, East Norriton Bob and Judy Werkmeister, Montoursville Carilion Biomedical Institute, Roanoke, Va. Citihope International, Andes, N.Y. DeGol Jet Center, Montoursville Drs. Andre and Penny Muelenaer Dr. Jay Dennis Hancock, OB/GYN Earl K. Long Medical Center, Baton Rouge,La. George Meritt Jenkins, Radnor Project HOPE, Winchester, Va. Sanofi-Pasteur Pharmaceutical Co. Youth Outreach, Altoona

As fuel costs for this relief effort will exceed $10,000, tax-deductible donations are accepted at:

His Wings Aviation Ministries 148 Schoolhouse Road Cogan Station, PA 17728

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