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Wings of Hope Hires Bret Heinrich as New President and CEO
ST. LOUIS, MO (July 21, 2017) — Wings of Hope has a new president and CEO. Effective August 1, Bret Heinrich will assume the top post at the aviation nonprofit, which is headquartered at Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield, Mo.
Heinrich, an experienced nonprofit executive, most recently served as chief development officer at St. Andrews Charitable Foundation. His nonprofit experience also includes roles at the Oasis Institute and the Laurasian Institution.
“Hiring Bret was the culmination of a nationwide search that involved reviewing an impressive pool of 150 candidates over the past 10 months,” said Board Chairman Steve Akre. “Bret exemplifies the leadership we need to steer Wings of Hope as we continue to fulfill our mission of serving those in need both in the U.S. and around the globe.”
“I am honored to join Wings of Hope and build on its storied tradition of humanitarian service. The challenges facing societies on a global scale are unprecedented,” Heinrich said. “Knowing this, our opportunity — and our responsibility— to bring hope through education, access to health, and humanitarian aid to all corners of the world has also never been greater.”
Heinrich is immediate past-president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, St. Louis Regional Chapter, and a member of the association’s international board of directors. He serves on the Kirkwood School District R-7 Board of Education, and is immediate past-president of the Kirkwood School District Foundation Board of Directors. Nationally, Heinrich serves on the Albuquerque Oasis Board of Directors and has held leadership roles on other nonprofit boards. Heinrich is an adjunct professor in the Washington University and Webster University nonprofit management programs and has presented on this topic in the United States and internationally.
Heinrich holds a bachelor’s degree from Eureka College in Eureka, Ill., and a master’s degree from Western Illinois University. He earned his Certified Fundraising Executive credential in 2005. Heinrich also is an ordained minister in the General Council of Christian Churches.
Minneapolis Woman Wins Airplane in Charity Raffle
Wings of Hope Delivering Plane to Crystal Airport on July 18
ST. LOUIS, MO (July 10, 2017) — The odds of Nyla Schroeder winning the Wings of Hope airplane raffle were slim. First, her ticket had to be selected from the 4,000 tickets sold. Second, she was participating in a raffle in which upwards of 95% of ticket buyers are men.
But Nyla beat the odds, and on July XX, Wings of Hope, an aviation nonprofit based in St. Louis, will deliver her plane, a Piper Archer II, to Crystal Airport.
Nyla, 38, is not a pilot, but she has already starting working toward her pilot’s license.
“I took my first lesson right after we won the plane,” she says.
The “we” she is referring to is her boyfriend, who is a pilot. The couple had been considering buying a plane, but decided it wasn’t in their immediate future when they got a postcard promoting the raffle in the mail. They looked up Wings of Hope on the web, and, thought, “Why not? Our money goes to a good cause,” Nyla says.
The raffle, which raised about $170,000, supports the charity’s Medical Relief & Air Transport (MAT) Program, which flies seriously ill individuals to specialized medical care free of charge. All 4,000 tickets sold out in less than six hours, and the raffle has become so popular that Wings of Hope started running two a year in 2016.
“We have been completely overwhelmed by the interest these raffles have generated and are truly grateful for the generous support of people like Nyla,” says Laura Helling, director of development for Wings of Hope. “With two a year, we are raising more than $300,000 annually to support our medical air transport program.”
The program has a Minnesota connection, too, having flown a number of patients to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for treatment.
“I was just happy to contribute to Wings of Hope,” Nyla says. “I think it would be great to contribute back to Wings of Hope or some other organization as a pilot, someday, years down the road.”
Wings of Hope Receives ISTAT Grant
Humanitarian grant to support work in Papua New Guinea
ST. LOUIS, MO (November 03, 2016) — The International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) Foundation awarded Wings of Hope an $8,000 grant to support medevac services at one of the organization’s newest field bases: Papua New Guinea. This is the second grant Wings of Hope has received from the ISTAT Foundation. In 2015, the foundation awarded the aviation nonprofit a $10,000 grant to support its work providing emergency medical flights in Nicaragua.
“We are very grateful to the ISTAT Foundation for its continued support of our efforts to use aviation for the greater good,” said Wings of Hope Board Chair Steve Akre. “In a place like Papua New Guinea – where people are literally cut off from health care resources – having access to a plane to fly people to emergency medical care is often the difference between life and death.”
Wings of Hope is one of 14 humanitarian organizations that received a total of $150,000 from the ISTAT Foundation in 2016.
“I am delighted that the ISTAT Foundation has been able to support 14 separate organizations, all of whom use the immense power of aviation to improve the lives of those people around the world who suffer as a result of natural disasters, poverty, lack of medical care or disability” said Julian Balaam, ISTAT Foundation Trustee and Humanitarian Chair.
The ISTAT Foundation’s Humanitarian Aid Program supports causes that are designed to help save lives, promote human welfare, and provide medical treatment and transportation to those suffering from global disasters and afflictions. To learn more about the ISTAT Foundation, visit www.istat.org/foundation.
Did you know that about 90% of the individuals we serve in our MAT Program are frequent fliers? One of our youngest frequent fliers is William. He was born with clubfoot and Arthrogryposis, a joint condition in which some of the joints don’t move as much as normal and may even be stuck in one position. We few William 13 times round trip from his home in Minnesota to St. Louis Shriners Hospital – and, today, he is walking like a pro!
Emilee was a junior in college, all set to graduate early and already accepted into graduate school when things started going wrong. Normally bubbly, Emilee suddenly became anxious and depressed. Then the physical symptoms began. She lost the ability to walk, speak, hold a pencil, and her vision deteriorated. At her worst, she even needed a feeding tube. After many misdiagnoses, Emilee was diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease – a rare, genetic disease characterized by too much copper in the system that attacks vital organs.
Since February 2014, Wings of Hope has flown Emilee and her family 10 times from her home in Springfield, Mo., to the Wilson’s Disease Center for Excellence at University of Michigan. Because she has been able to work with a team of experts, Emilee has made great progress. She is walking (and running!), swimming, learning to speak again – and exceeding expectations on all fronts!
Griffin is one of our youngest MAT patients. Before he was even four months old, he had already made three round trip flights from his home in Ohio to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for treatment of bilateral clubfeet. His parents, Amanda and Corey, found out that Griffin would be born with clubfeet during Amanda’s 20- week ultrasound. Amanda immediately began researching the best treatment options for her son.
“My prayer was that we would find the best doctor to treat this,” she says.
She found Dr. Matthew Dobbs, who practices at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and is nationally recognized for his skill at treating all pediatric foot disorders – including the correction of clubfeet. Amanda and Corey drove with baby Griffin to St. Louis for their first consultation with Dr. Dobbs. The seven-hour drive (not including stops) was difficult with a newborn; the two days of travel also increased time away from Amanda and Corey’s other children, ages 6 and 3. While staying at St. Louis Haven House, the couple learned about Wings of Hope. Flying with Wings of Hope has shortened the trips by a day or more and relieved Amanda and Corey from the financial stress associated with making repeat trips for Griffin’s treatment.
Four-year-old Claire is a true Wings of Hope success story. When she was two, she got very sick, very fast. When she was finally diagnosed with HLH Syndrome, a rare condition that is fatal if not treated, her mother started driving her from St. Louis to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, an HLH Center of Excellence. When the 7-hour drive became too much for Claire, her mother found Wings of Hope. We flew her nine times round trip in 18 months—and Claire received a clean bill of health in July 2015!
Alex is 12 years old and loves sports—especially basketball. When he was 5, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Seven months of chemotherapy sent his cancer into remission.
Just before Alex turned 10, the cancer returned. A doctor at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital suggested he get tested for a rare immune disorder that affects boys (X-linked lymphoproliferative disease, or XLP) and causes lymphomas. Alex tested positive.
Alex endured another 6 months of chemo before getting a bone marrow transplant from his sister at Cincinnati Children’s—an XLP center of excellence. We have flown Alex four round trips to Cincinnati. We also flew his sister to Cincinnati for the transplant—and his father for a visit while Alex and his mom spent four months at the hospital. Today, Alex is cancer free and back on the basketball court!
To read the complete history, click here.
Wings of Hope has a rich and storied history that traces back to 1962. Four St. Louis businessmen saw a need in the Turkana Desert for an aircraft to bring aid to the famine-stricken people scattered throughout the vast expanse – an area so remote and desolate that traditional means of travel were not only time-consuming, but often risky and dangerous. This initial humanitarian effort soon developed into a larger mission to help those in need living in remote areas of the world – which grew to include regions in Africa, central and South America, and Asia.
Over time, it became apparent that people living in certain remote, rural areas around in the U.S. also lacked access to sufficient health care. This was a particular need for families caring for children with advanced or rare medical issues. When specialists who offered the best chance at healing and recovery were not practicing locally, these families often faced the harsh reality of not being able to get their child the best care possible either because they could not afford the travel expenses or because their child was too sick to travel by traditional means. In 2003, Wings of Hope created the Medical Relief & Air Transport (MAT) Program to address the needs of these families.
More than a half century after our founders envisioned aircraft as a means to help the starving people, Wings of Hope continues to use our wings to lift up those who need healing and hope.