Wings of Hope Receives Grant from Berges Family Foundation
$50,000 grant to support free U.S. medical air transport service
ST. LOUIS, MO (April 5, 2018) — The Berges Family Foundation awarded Wings of Hope a $50,000 grant to support the organization’s U.S.-based medical air transport program. This is the first grant the aviation nonprofit has received from the foundation.
“We are very grateful to the Berges Family Foundation for supporting our efforts to use aviation to transport people to the medical care they need to heal and to hope,” said Wings of Hope President and CEO Bret Heinrich.
In 2017, Wings of Hope flew 202 individuals to hospitals and specialized treatment centers throughout the Midwest – free of charge.
“Jim and Cathy Berges invest in organizations that make St. Louis a great place to live, visit and invest. We are proud, and humbled, that they have chosen to invest in Wings of Hope,” Heinrich said.
The foundation has a particular focus on funding initiatives that support cultural engagement, STEM preparedness, youth empowerment, and first responders and veterans.
“Wings of Hope provides a vital link between people facing serious health crises and the medical professionals who can give them the best chance at recovery,” Jim Berges, co-founder of the Berges Family Foundation, said. “The Berges Family Foundation is delighted to support the work this organization is doing to support these individuals and strengthen our community.”
To learn more, visit bergesfamilyfoundation.org.
Taste of Hope Coming to Wings of Hope Hangar on Saturday, October 14
CHESTERFIELD, MO (September 20, 2017) — Wings of Hope’s Young Ambassadors are turning the organization’s hangar into a runway cafe on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Taste of Hope will offer ticket holders global fare from local restaurants, and beverages from Urban Chestnut, Granite City Brewery, Noboleis Winery and Monster Energy Drink. This family-friendly event will feature a DJ spinning tunes and kids’ activities, including face painting and the chance to climb into a real Wings of Hope plane. Proceeds support Wings of Hope’s international programs providing people around the world access to health care, education, sustainable food, and microcredit.
Taste of Hope
When: Saturday, October 14, 2017, 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: Wings of Hope Hangar (Spirit of St. Louis Airport), 18370 Wings of Hope Blvd., Chesterfield, MO 63005
Tickets: $30 for adults (2 for $50), $10 for children 6-12; on sale at https://wingsofhope.ngo/events/taste-of-hope/
Restaurants: Asabi Bistro, Daikin Eggrolls, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Mayuri India Restaurant, Smoothie King, Stefanina’s, Café Piazza, and more
Sponsors: Dierbergs Markets, Daikin Inc., DOT Foods, Gateway Buick GMC, Joe-K’s Used Cars, Culinary Institute of St. Louis, First National Bank, Greenway Communications LLC, MBM Wealth Consultants
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.
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!
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.