As an Ambassador for Wings4Kidz it was an honour to witness first-hand the amazing work that this organisation does, and to meet little Charlie Rose and her family.
I have written about Wings4Kids before; in a nutshell, they transport sick children from regional NSW to their medical appointments and hospital visits in Sydney and Newcastle. Read more about Wings4kidz here.
Charlie was born with permanent moderate hearing loss that would require aids for the rest of her life, in addition she has an extremely rare pituitary brain cyst that was causing her to have low thyroid hormone levels and pressing on her optic nerves putting her vision at risk. She was referred to Professor Brian Owler at Westmead Children's Hospital in Sydney where she underwent a craniotomy at only 4 months of age. She is now one (turned one in hospital) and has had to have further surgery.
We finally got to take little Charlie Rose Back to Ballina on Saturday morning as her doctor did not want to release her from hospital any earlier.
Once we arrived at Bankstown Aerodrome we were greeted by the CEO, Brendan and Wing4kidz pilots Natalie and Jesse. Charlie, her mum Phoebe and I were driven to the airport By the Founder, Kevin Robinson. As we arrived so did our plane, flown in by Captain Andrew; an extremely experienced pilot. The private jet was supplied by both Pegasus Air and Milbrae Quarries. The reason we needed to have this plane is because it had to fly at a lower altitude due to Charlie's brain surgery.
Listen to Captain Andrew explain more here. FYI everyone is a volunteer at Wings4Kidz - no pay, even Captain Andrew donated his time.
Charlie is a cute little baby, even with her scar. She's happy and very contented. I couldn't get enough of this little cherub and she's a big hit with the whole team.
Once we boarded and Charlie was settled it was time to take off for the 1.20 minute trip to Ballina. Charlie was a little unsettled but as soon as we were airborne she was very happy. Up the front with the Captain was Natalie. We were in good hands!
The view up was spectacular because we were flying so low. It takes a lot more fuel to fly at this altitude but there was no other option.
Finally we arrived at our destination after a smooth trip. It was clear that Phoebe and Charlie were exhausted after the two weeks in hospital. Phoebe mentioned to me that although the nurses were there to administer the medications etc, and look after the babies, the responsibility falls on the parent and in Charlie's case, Phoebe basically camped by Charlie's bed the whole time.
Then the reunion happened. One big happy family again. Two very delighted older sisters and a very happy dad and husband.
With the family back together it was time to get the crew back. This time we were going to fly back at around 22,000 feet and Natalie took us up very smoothly. Jesse and I were in the back and we were headed to Wollongong to drop off Natalie and then back to Bankstown.
The trip back from Wollongong to Bankstown is something I'll never forget. Andrew had warned me that we were going to hit turbulence and that he had no other choice but to go through it. It was a bit bumpy but then we hit an air pocket and dropped about 50 feet. I knew I was in good hands so remained calm despite the fact that it was pretty unnerving. Oh well.... all in a day's volunteering!
Wings4Kidz are self funded; any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.