wouldn't you love it if . . .


kids could fly as high as their dreams?

You guessed it! They can! At least, in Tucson, Phoenix,  North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts and Florida.

A non-profit 501(c)3 organization called Wright Flight,Inc.  was started in Tucson, Arizona, by a retired Air Force Reserve fighter pilot called Robin Stoddard. Stoddard said that he had noticed that planes have a profound effect on kids. He decided to use that fact to make a difference in their lives. He developped a flight training program and materials for kids. Then he found other volunteers to help teach the kids to fly. Next, he put out the word that any kid who wanted to do it badly enough could learn to fly for free.

Well, that “free” really caught the attention of kids and parents alike. And while the parents truly don’t pay anything for the flying lessons, the kids do.  They have to keep their grades up in school and they must volunteer in the community. Once they have met their hours requirement, they turn in copies of their report cards and get a teacher to recommend them.

You may wonder how I know all this . . . well, my grandson, who has just signed up for the program, told me. For him, this was a no-brainer decision to fulfill his dream of flying. He comes from a middle class family whose income stretches well for the family, but would not allow flying lessons at $129.95 a session. (And that’s the low end in Tucson.) So, he knew it wouldn’t happen unless he made it happen. And so, he found Wright Flight and got the ball rolling.

But, most of the Wright Flight kids are not so self-motivated and don’t have my grandson’s self-esteem and self-direction. That’s exactly why Robin Stoddard started the program. As of 2011, approximately  10,500  successful students have graduated Wright Flight Training –over 750  in the Tucson area during this school year! Stoddard keeps 21 pilot-instructors and over two dozen volunteers working so that those successful kids can have their flight lessons and time.

Wright Flight, Inc. was selected to receive the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Award by the National Aeronautic Association. On September 15th, Stoddard received the award on the steps at the US Capitol building.  “While it’s certainly a mark of distinction for the organization,” Stoddard said, “this award really honors our sponsors, volunteers and the countless children who have not only raised their grades, but experienced the profound challenges of flight. The emotional response that we get from every child that takes off in a Wright Flight airplane is a weekly reminder that we are doing the work we set out to do. “

Rock on!

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Sportsmanlike conduct still existed?

Especially today, after reading about a high school football player in Ohio who sent the entire opposing team to the doctor for tetanus shots after a game in which he didn’t even play! I was so discouraged over this story, and then I ran across another story that made me take heart.

It seems that some teens do know the meaning of sportsmanship and sportsmanlike conduct. Hooray!   
Here’s what happened:
Josh Ripley, from Andover High in Minnesota, picked up an injured competitor and ran back to the starting line to deliver the boy to his coach before returning to his junior varsity cross country 2-mile race (the Applejack Invite ). It seems that Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas had hurt himself. Other runners simply kept going, focused on the competition. But, Josh heard the scream and saw Mark holding his bloody ankle; and then he made a decision. He picked up Mark and carried him  a quarter mile back to his coach! And, it’s a really good thing he did bacuase when Mark got to the emergency room, doctors realized he had been accidentally spiked by another runner’s shoe during the race. His injury required 20 stitches and a walking boot to keep the wounded area from opening up.

And Josh is just like most of the heroes we meet in everyday life. “I didn’t think about my race, I knew I needed to stop and help him,” he said in a press release from his school district . “It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.” He’s nothing special? I wish!

Here’s what happened next:

First, his cross country coach, Scott Clark, was incredulous when he heard that Ripley was carrying another runner back to the starting line.”Then Josh comes jogging into view carrying a runner,” Clark said. “I noticed the blood on the runner’s ankle as Josh handed him off to one of the coaches from Lakeville. Josh was tired and you could tell his focus was off as he started back on the course.” After dropping Mark Paulauskas off with his coaches, Josh Ripley went back and finished the race!

Not surprisingly, Josh will be honored for this incident at a school board meeting next week.  Here’s the story from WCCO-TV in Minnesota.

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Hey Josh, Rock on!