Pediatric Rehabilitation Patients Have Opportunity to Fly Airplanes

share this:
Brennan, 18, and his grandfather begin to board the Cheyenne as Noah, 8, and his father wait to board.

Brennan, 18, and his grandfather begin to board the Cheyenne as Noah, 8, and his father wait to board.

Patients from the pediatric rehabilitation program at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital
Long Beach received the experience of a lifetime, when they got the chance to climb in and fly airplanes over the Long Beach Marina.

One at a time, patients were allowed to bring their families aboard a plane and sit beside pilots in the cockpit. Patients were taught basic safety rules and, when ready, acted as co-pilot, excitedly throwing on headsets as the plane was ready to take off.

Families were allowed to accompany each child, and all were excited to see picturesque views that came with flying over the Long Beach Marina and around Catalina Island. Mother Dominique Quevedo, who has two sons at Miller’s Children, expressed her excitement, “This is going to be the first time I fly, though my kids have had the privilege of doing so the last two years. I’m a little nervous, but I love seeing the confidence in my boys. The fact that this program lets them know they can do anything they want makes me so happy, and pushes them even further.”

The event is donated to patients of Miller Children’s through the Spirit of Suzi Discovery Program that was initiated 14 years ago, which uses activities like flying to promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional abilities of children with special needs. Keith Furlong, manager of the Pacific Jet Center, has provided planes and licensed pilots for the program since its initial inception. All pilots donate their own time and skills to give patients detailed hands-on training, and many have participated for more than 10 years.

The Discovery Program grants patients with a chance to create unique memories and continuing means of social interaction. The bi-annual event also gives patients something to continuously look forward to, as Quevedo says, “It is the absolute pinnacle of their summer. They would not have the opportunity to do this otherwise. For them to not only be able to be in a plane, but fly it, is amazing.”

The program, which has helped more than 240 children since its launch, continues to be marked as an irreplaceable memory in patients’ lives, and is a source of comfort and encouragement for them. “The sky is the limit,” says Mariana de Sena, C.T.R.S, recreational therapist at Miller’s Children’s. “There is always something one can do, no matter what their ability level is.”

Comments are closed.