Changing lives through their continuing efforts, Pilots for Patients has been serving members of the Dyer County community for over seven years. Led by President Philip Thomas, this airborne ministry currently undergoes 15-20 missions a week, with a total of 2700 missions undergone since its founding in 2008, all this totaling an impressive 970,000 nautical miles. According to Thomas, this is equivalent to flying around the Earth’s equator a whopping 44 times.
While landing in Dyersburg this past Friday during the transport of local resident Vicki Greer, Pilots for Patients were greeted with a donation check for $2,000 from Community Cancer Fund director Debbie Harris. Contributing to the cause on an annual basis, Community Cancer Fund is a large backer of Pilots for Patients, as both organizations work for a common cause in serving those who have found themselves in devastating situations in regard to personal health and require assistance.
“Thank you all for your hard work and dedication to the Community Cancer Fund. Not only for Pilots for Patients but for all of the individuals here in the community that you help,” stated Thomas.
Patiently awaiting their arrival inside of the Dyersburg Municipal Airport, the Greers’ son, Jack Jones, sat patiently with a rack of ribs for his father Billy, a technician for Bad Bob’s Barbeque, and his mother, Vicki Greer, who were expected to be returning shortly from their second trip, made through the aid of Pilots for Patients.
Diagnosed with a rare and aggressive type of uterine cancer last June, Greer’s health relies heavily on the specialty doctors that are found in Houston, Texas. With three rounds of chemotherapy down and three more to go before starting radiation, Pilots for Patients have worked wonderfully with Greer in ensuring that she makes all of her appointments. “They’re fantastic,” stated Greer, “They take really good care of you.”
Arriving at approximately noon Friday, Pilots for Patients landed at the Dyersburg Municipal Airport. Flown in by Pilots for Patients’ President Philip Thomas, this high-performance plane helps people with medically related travel needs in areas ranging from Dyersburg to Monroe, Louisiana.
Beginning with Angel Flight back in the 1980s, the organization was soon overwhelmed with an area that was larger than its resources. Recognizing the need for extra help, Pilots for Patients was born. Although in no way affiliated with Angel Flight, Pilots for Patients coordinator Beth Stone, out of Kentucky, works with coordinators from Angel Flight and Ground Angels, who provide cost-free ground transportation, in order to assist patients flying beyond Monroe, Louisiana. With their united efforts, they are able to serve in assisting a multitude of patients who are not able to afford costly flights and cab fares, but wish to seek specialty care in areas that provide a wider range of healthcare physicians.
Retrieving patients for out-of-state appointments, Pilots for Patients carries anyone, along a route from Dyersburg to Monroe, Louisiana, who is need of out-of-state medical assistance, to and from their destinations. With Greer requiring the medical services of specialists in Texas, Pilots for Patients were able to airlift her as far as Monroe, La. Once in Monroe, Angel Flight, a similar non-profit organization, flew Greer the remainder of the way to Houston. This entire flight, including transportation from the Houston Airport to the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the specialty clinic treating Greer, was cost-free.
Run purely off of the kindness of donations, these services are always without cost to the recipients. No matter your financial situation or your medical condition, Pilots for Patients can help assist you in seeking out the best possible help that is available. While many are unaware of the wonderful deeds done by this 100 percent volunteer-based ministry, the need for their services is continuously growing and in demand.
Saving those they help over $1,175,000 over the past seven and a half years, they are surely a service worth recognizing and contributing toward. “We get to know the patients. We spend time with them. When they are in their low state we are there to uplift them when they are financially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally distraught,” commented Greer, “we are like family.”