SEAGROVE BEACH — Faafua Cummings isn’t exactly a football fan.
When she met the tall, friendly pilot named Jimmy who flew her and her husband to Miami recently, she didn’t make the connection to former New Orleans Saints star Jimmy Graham, one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
“I had never heard of him before,” Cummings explained. “But when I posted a photo on my Facebook page, everyone went crazy!”
Cummings met Graham, who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in March, when the 28-year-old football star volunteered to fly his first Angel Flight Soars mission. The volunteer pilot organization provides patients with free transportation for medical treatment that is not available locally.
Cummings needed to go to Miami to see a specialist for the severe burns she received during a Christmas Eve explosion at the restaurant where she was working. The Mississippi resident flew with another volunteer pilot to the Destin Executive Airport, where she and her husband met Graham.
“He was so nice during the flight,” she said. “He gave us a tour of his plane, and explained how everything worked. He was just very down to earth.”
Skip and Victoria Moore, owners of the Seagrove Beach restaurant 723 Whiskey Bravo, are members of the board of directors of Angel Flight Soars and recruited Graham to join the organization.
The couple met Graham, who has vacationed in South Walton County, about a year and a half ago.
“We have a big fundraiser for the organization every February called Party with a Purpose,” Victoria Moore said. “This year, Jimmy donated $10,000 to the cause. When we found out that he had his pilot’s license, we encouraged him to get trained to fly missions.”
The Moores were impressed with Graham’s enthusiasm for the program.
“Jimmy came from a very difficult background and childhood,” Skip Moore said. “He is a very, very compassionate, humble person. He wasn’t looking for a lot of fanfare when he did this — he just wanted to help.”