George Sells (KMOX): And we’re back on total information AM in time to talk about our KMOX “Voice of Caring” partner for the month of July, you’ve heard us talk about them quite a bit, Wings of Hope one of the most unique yet necessary charitable organizations I think I can think of. Bret Heinrich joining us now he’s the president and CEO of Wings of Hope. Bret welcome to KMOX.
Bret Heinrich (Wings of Hope): George thank you it’s a delight to be with you today.
George: Yeah and let’s let’s do the set up for those who aren’t familiar I know most people have heard of you guys beta for those who are not familiar this is an organization that makes use of pilots and aircraft to get kids to medical treatment and it’s an unusual concept but if you think about the cost of just basic airfare it’s eminently necessary.
Bret: Absolutely George. In our 56 year history we’ve transported hundreds of thousands of people, both here in the United States and around the world, to get the health care that they need or to bring the health care to them. Our mission is really simple, “we save and change lives every day through the power of aviation,” and we do that anywhere in the world that that needs that type of service.
George: When you first heard about this, what went through your mind? To me it was just one of those those kind of smack moments were like “god yes that’s necessary.” What will what went through your mind when you first got wind of Wings of Hope.
Bret: Oh my goodness when I had the opportunity to interview for the President/CEO position and really dug in and did my homework on this organization, I was completely blown away by the forty seven countries that we’ve worked in in our 56 history, by the six hundred mile radius we service for patients right here in the U.S. around St. Louis and all the many things we’ve done that have led to two Nobel Peace Prize nominations in our history. It’s really an amazing story and one that we want to share with with the entire world.
George: Would you like to tell people about the organization we what’s your favorite story.
Bret: Well we have so many terrific stories I’m thinking right now of one of our young patients named William. William came to us when he was about two years old he was born with club foot and joint contractures and he is living in Minnesota but was – needed to come to Shriners Hospital right here in St. Louis. We’ve flown him more than 13 round trips, because that – clubfoot is a condition that doesn’t go away with one treatment and so we’re just delighted to be able to provide William and his family free transportation over those many hundred miles, back and forth, until he is entirely healed.
George: A lot of generous folks involved that are dedicating their time and their equipment there are aircraft in many cases to Wings of Hope. What are the things that you need? What if – if somebody’s listening the radio right now, saying “I’d like to help these guys out.” What are the things that you need most?
Bret: That’s a great question, and there are so many ways that people can become involved with her organization. First, Wings of Hope utilizes volunteers unlike any organization I’ve ever seen. My paid team is only fifteen people, but we have three hundred amazing volunteers that donate their time each and every day here – to the tune of more than a million dollars of volunteer-contributed time, in just a whole wide variety of roles: retired nurses serving as patient flight advocates helping each of our patients feel comfortable when they’re here. Boeing retirees working in our hangers underneath and along side our paid mechanics to make sure our aircraft are flying. All of our pilots are volunteers, and we uphold, hold them to the highest safety standards possible. And so knowing that everybody is here with a singular focus of “saving and changing lives through the power of aviation” is amazing and it’s what inspires me every day I come to work.
George: All righty then, once again Wings of Hope our KMOX “Voice of Caring” partner for the month of July. Bret Heinrich thank you so much for joining us this morning on KMOX.
Bret: Thank you George it’s a real pleasure.