Linden — Cody Welch was busy on Saturday night at Linden’s Prices Airport, but he didn’t mind.
As President of the Wings of Mercy East Michigan, being a volunteer for the fifth-annual Wings of Mercy Runway 5K Run was just fine with him.
With about 370 participants registered to compete in the 5K run, the 5K walk or the one-mile run/walk, he knew how important the event was going to be to his operations. The race’s proceeds go to Wings of Mercy of East Michigan. The non-profit organization uses the money to give free airplane rides to patients who need to use a plane to get to a major medical center. For those who qualify, the service is free.
“We give a free ride in general aviation airplanes to and from major medical centers for people whom transportation is a barrier,” Welch said. “It’s a free ride if they qualify. And this is always for people that have very serious medical issues. We are not an ambulance. It’s like a private car, but our private car goes 200 miles an hour. We can go 500 miles in a couple of hours.”
Wings of Mercy East Michigan has about 40 active volunteer pilots and have had over 300 volunteers over the years. Pilots are reimbursed for their fuel, but that’s it.
“This will generate between 10 and 15 missions,” Welch said. “So by default that’s 10 or 15 patients whose lives will be changed. That’s a big deal.
“Our numbers are building, and you can see how popular it is. We are going to get roughly 400 runners tonight.”
Over the history of Wings of Mercy, Welch said more than 2,500 missions have been completed for more than 400 patients.
“We believe that we make life-saving care possibilities for at least 10 percent,” Welch said. “So this is a very practical community non-profit. The other 90 percent of the people have life-altering and life-changing treatment.”
For those who want more information about Wings of Mercy, or would like to make a donation, go to wingseastmi.org.