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Shelley Osterloh ReportingEvery day many brave families deal quietly with life-threatening illnesses. Sometimes the medical care they need is miles away. One very special organization, called Angel Flight, helps their chances of survival and their spirits soar.
The Armstrong family lives in Boise Idaho, but is headed to Salt Lake City because their 11-month old baby, Mitchel, needs chemotherapy for a cancerous tumor in his eye.
Brenda Armstrong, Mitchel's Mother: “The last thing he wants to do is hop in a car and have to drive seven grueling hours down to salt lake."
Mark Miller, who you may recognize as a prominent local car dealer, is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, non-profit organization which provides free air transportation for families that need to get medical attention away from home. Angel Flight has turned Miller's love for flying into a mission of love.
Mark Miller, Angel Flight: "You can make a difference in people's lives. We fly organs, we fly blood, we fly seeing guide dogs to people. In 9-11 angel flight pilots were the only pilots flying. We were flying blood into New York to help the survivors. So you do all sorts of missions."
Each year Angel Flight pilots across the country fly about 10-thousand missions. For people like the Armstrongs, dealing with the emotional and financial burden of having a child with cancer, this free transportation is the answer to a prayer.
Brenda Armstrong: "Angel Flight has been an awesome thing. They are exactly what they say; they are angels."
Every few weeks Mitchel must travel to Primary Children's' Hospital for several days of therapy for retinal Blastoma. Mitchel was diagnosed when he was seven months old.
Commercial flights are expensive and Mitchel is too vulnerable to illness.
Brenda Armstrong: "You have to go through all the crowds, germs, security, which I understand. But where Mitchel’s counts are so low, his blood counts, he is imuno compromised they call it, and I’m really really worried about germs."
Angel Flight pilots donate their time, and their planes and they pay for all expenses associated with the flights, including fuel.
The Armstrongs are forging ahead under the most difficult circumstances, flying the friendly skies with the help of an angel. Angel Flight is a national network and is always looking for more pilots and donations.