Newsletter 2018-02-13T13:01:02+00:00


As a 7-year-old in my hometown of Dwight, a small, central Illinois farm town, “charitable acts” meant washing cars to raise money for baseball uniforms, holding bake sales and, in junior high school, selling merchandise from a blue suitcase through a company called Tom Watt. But I didn’t really understand what being charitable or being philanthropic meant – not until that Christmas Eve when my mom asked me to climb in the back seat of our car so we could drive through the streets of Dwight after dark to quietly deliver garbage bags of clothes and cardboard boxes of food to those less fortunate. We didn’t discuss what we were doing, and we didn’t need to. The smallest acts of kindness can leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. That was my mom, and she taught me my very first lesson in extending a helping hand.

Since then, I have been blessed to serve alongside countless incredible people – all seeking to make our world a better place. I am now humbled and incredibly grateful for the opportunity to provide servant leadership as president and CEO of Wings of Hope.

Our mission is simple, yet profound. We are an aviation nonprofit delivering humanitarian programs around the globe to lift people in need toward self-sufficiency. Our work extends to 26 states and across 11 countries outside of the U.S. From Cincinnati to Kenya, we use our airplanes, our expertise and our love of humanity to change and save lives, and we have done so for 55 years.

As we look ahead to the next half-century of the Wings of Hope story, we are reminded of the words of one of our founders, Joe Fabick: “In the years ahead, Wings of Hope will continue to provide services exactly as they always have: free of charge as an inter-faith organization serving the cause of international brotherhood.”

In honoring the legacy of our founders, my vision is to build new partnerships, engage new generations of volunteers, and collaborate with our current donors and new investors to promote self-sufficiency and sustainability wherever it is needed throughout the world.

This is no small task. The need is seemingly endless, and there will be daunting obstacles. But my spirit is lifted by the incredible dedication of our volunteers and staff and all those who believe in the power of hope and the calling to love. Join us in the movement.

Bret Heinrich, President & CEO


We have wonderful news to share from the Cambodian education program we support with our partner John Givonetti Giving (JGG). The first nine student volunteer teachers – who started with the program when they were in middle school – have graduated from university. These students worked as student teachers throughout their high school years, volunteering every day after school and on weekends to teach younger students English. They also worked full time while attending university. All of them now work in the private sector — for travel companies, hotels, micro-finance institutions, private schools, and other organizations. We are so proud of these students who worked so hard to achieve their dreams of earning a college degree!

As we celebrate the program’s first college graduates, seven high school graduates recently started university in Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh and Pursat – and 24 ninth and 10th graders just finished their training to be student volunteer teachers. These new student teachers will be busy, as the number of students learning English in the JGG program reached a record high of 977 students earlier this fall.

To accommodate this growth, JGG opened a new 1200-square-foot learning center in Romlech, one of three locations from which the program operates. This new learning center provides a place for student volunteer teachers to receive ongoing training in English teaching and computer skills. It’s also open for use by the local community.

Well done, JGG!


Sometimes, the only path to healing for a child with severe medical needs is one we’d all wish to avoid. Stephanie was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare genetic birth defect that impairs the development of the lower half of the body. Stephanie’s legs did not develop normally, and her feet were tucked underneath her hips. It seems counterintuitive, but this little girl’s only hope of walking was to amputate both her feet. Although amputation is not an option any parent wants for their child, in this case, it was the only path to walking for Stephanie. This brave three-year-old completed her first two nights with Wings of Hope to Shriners Hospital in St. Louis in July. We will continue to fly her to Shriners for ongoing treatment — and, ultimately, her fitting with prosthetics — as she and her family navigate her journey to walking. That will be a happy day, indeed!


On a recent Friday at a Dallas-area high school, some students chose to forego the traditional “Friday Night Lights” to see a special Friday night flight. As the bright blue and yellow plane soared overhead, the students – who had spent several Saturdays working on the plane in a hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program – could not contain their excitement.

“We did it!” shouted a high school junior.

Wings of Hope provided the aircraft for the project, a Cessna 182. The nonprofit, Experience Aviation, provided the curriculum. Barrington Irving, record-setting pilot and Wings of Hope Honorary Council member, founded Experience Aviation to get students excited about pursuing STEM-related careers.

After a thorough check by our mechanics, the plane will be delivered to Guyana to support Wings of Hope’s partner, Adventist World Aviation, in their work providing medical air transport to people living in remote communities.

Wings of Hope President and CEO Bret Heinrich says the program gives students “an opportunity to really see the impact of their work in the world as their plane gets dispatched for international relief.”

“We hope we’re cultivating a love for STEM-related careers and broadening their awareness of the world,” Bret adds.

Steve Long, director of hangar operations for Wings of Hope, agrees that students benefit from knowing that the plane they worked on will go on to serve a humanitarian purpose.

“The kids work on an airplane that has a future of helping others,” Steve says.


On July 30, we flew our newly refurbished and painted Piper Cherokee 6 to Belize where our pilot, TJ Stewart, is using it to fly medical missions for longtime partner, Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT). Volunteer pilots Don Hoerstkamp, Rick Oloteo and Ed Schertz delivered the Piper, but they did not return empty handed. The Piper replaced our Cessna N206KY, which has a long history with Wings of Hope, with tours of duty in Guatemala, Guyana, the U.S., Tanzania and Belize. The 206 returned home to St. Louis where it will be put back in service as a Medical Relief & Air Transport plane.


The Young Ambassadors of Wings of Hope hosted their first major fundraising event in the Wings of Hope hangar on October 14 – and Taste of Hope was a resounding success! More than 225 enjoyed tasting portions from local restaurants and beer and wine from St. Louis vendors. Crafts and face painting entertained the kids, and DJPru kept the mood upbeat with his lively tracks. Best of all, the event raised $12,700, more than four times the inaugural event’s fundraising goal. The proceeds will support Wings of Hope’s work in Tanzania, Cambodia and India. A big thank you to Dierbergs and all of our sponsors: Daikin Inc., DOT Foods, Gateway Buick GMC, Joe-K’s Used Cars, Culinary Institute of St. Louis, First National Bank, Greenway Communications LLC, and MBM Wealth Consultants. Shout out to our raffle sponsors: St. Louis Symphony, Peabody Opera House, Trader Joe’s, Noboleis Winery, and Think. Eat. Live. Foods. A special thanks also to our participating restaurants and beverage providers: Asabi Bistro, Café Piazza, Daikin Inc., Dierbergs/Shipt, Double G Ham, El Burro Loco, Granite City Food & Brewery, Major Brands Premium Beverage Distributors, Mayuri India Restaurant, Nothing Bundt Cakes – Chesterfield, Smoothie King, Stefanina’s, Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, and Zen Thai & Japanese Cuisine. Mark your calendars for October 2018!


Donating aircraft has become somewhat of a family tradition for the King family. On a recent Sunday, Danny King and his wife, Liz, donated their 1969 Beechcraft Baron to Wings of Hope.

Danny is the second of three generations to pilot the plane. Danny’s father, who bought the plane in 1977, and his son, DJ, have also flown the plane. This is the second plane the family has donated. Several years ago, Danny’s father donated a small aircraft to Middle Tennessee State University.

Wings of Hope receives about 20 donated aircraft every year. In recognition of their generosity and heart for service, we present each donor with our highest honor: The Order of the Aviator. Wings of Hope uses some of these donated planes in the field. Those we can’t use in the field, we sell and use the proceeds to support our programming.

Don Hoerstkamp, Wings of Hope Chief Pilot for aircraft retrieval, met the Kings at Gatlinburg Pigeon-Forge Airport on October 29 to pick up the plane.

“Without these donations, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Hoerstkamp said.


For the second consecutive year, we were so grateful to be selected as a #GatewayGivesBack partner by Gateway Buick GMC. During June, a portion of every car the dealership sold was donated to our MAT Program. At the end of the month, Gateway’s Director of Marketing, Kelley Haenny, presented us with a check for $3,950. Not only that, Gateway signed on as a sponsor for the Young Ambassadors’ Taste of Hope event. Thank you, Gateway Buick GMC!


The odds of Nyla Schroeder winning our spring airplane raffle were slim. First, her ticket had to be selected from the 4,000 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 17, we delivered her new Piper Archer II to Crystal Airport, just outside of Minneapolis. Nyla, 38, is not a pilot, but she has already started working toward her pilot’s license.

“I took my first lesson right after we won the plane,” she 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.”

The raffle, which raised about $170,000 for our MAT Program, sold out in less than six hours.


To say the winner of our fall airplane raffle (the holder of ticket number 298358369) was excited when we called to tell him he was the new owner of the grand prize 1977 Cessna 150, is an understatement. We could even hear his family cheering in the background! Second prize (a private pilot’s license or advanced training scholarship) went to ticket number 298355642. Stay tuned for our spring raffle which launches April 1, 2018 …


When we were asked to attend Fabick Cat’s 100th Anniversary Celebration on July 29, we were honored and proud to be part of the festivities. After all, Fabick Cat and the Fabick family have been generously supporting Wings of Hope since Joe Fabick joined three others in founding Wings of Hope in the early 1960s. But we had no idea that we would be one of six charities presented with a $100,000 check. “I was completely stunned,” Wings of Hope Vice President Laura Helling says. “The Fabick family has always supported Wings of Hope – and their generosity, to Wings of Hope and to the many charities they support, is a solid testament to the Fabick family’s commitment to making sure their communities remain strong. Wings of Hope is absolutely thrilled with this donation, and we are excited about the real impact it will make in the lives of the people we serve.”


For two decades, the Employees Community Fund of Boeing has generously supported Wings of Hope. We are so grateful to have received the most recent grant supporting our Medical Relief & Air Transport Program. Thank you, Employees Community Fund of Boeing!


The Greater St. Louis Flight Instructors Association (GSLFIA) honored Wings of Hope at its awards banquet at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on October 28. GSLFIA Vice President Dick Horowitz — who also is chief MAT pilot for Wings of Hope — presented Wings of Hope the Spirit of St. Louis Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations for exemplary support, dedication and service to aviation and aviation organizations.


September 12 was a special day at Wings of Hope. Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Director of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, presented longtime volunteer Ken Christian with the Order of the Aviator, Wings of Hope’s highest honor. Ken donated his plane to us, a Cherokee 140 that he often flew to Wings of Hope on his volunteer days. Ken praised the Wings of Hope family for making the donation easy – and understanding the emotions associated with giving up a plane he and his wife, Terri, had flown “almost to the east coast and almost to the west coast” since they bought it in 1999. Before handing over the keys, Ken checked another item off his bucket list: completing a touch-and-go landing at Lambert. Congratulations, Ken, and thank you for your donation!


Your membership provides a steady source of income we can count on to support our programs here in the U.S. and around the globe – and we are excited to launch some new membership levels. We still offer our $29 annual membership for individuals, but we also have memberships for families, businesses – and our new gift membership program, which is especially timely as the holidays approach. We invite you to visit our website to check out the benefits of each membership level and find the option that works for you. Have questions? Give us a call at 636-537-1302. Thank you!


The Wings of Hope hangar was a fitting venue for the Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association (GSLBAA) luncheon celebrating 73 years of business aviation at Fabick Cat.

Wings of Hope President Bret Heinrich and Vice President Laura Helling kicked off the event by recalling the shared histories of Wings of Hope and the Fabick family that began with Joe Fabick founding the humanitarian nonprofit 55 years ago. Then, Fabick Cat President Jeré Fabick spoke about the company’s seven decades in business aviation.

GSLBAA President Roger Mollman presented Wings of Hope a check for $14,850, proceeds from the annual golf tournament GSLBAA hosts benefiting Wings of Hope and the GSLBAA Educational Foundation. Then Roger recognized Fabick Cat Chief Pilot Jerry Kaemmer for 40 years in the aviation industry – which included flying international missions for Wings of Hope during the 1970s.

A great day for GSLBAA, the Fabick family – and Wings of Hope!


Honorarium and memorial gifts are a wonderful way to celebrate and honor the people who are special in our lives. Wings of Hope is the humble recipient of hundreds of these tribute gifts annually. Those individuals who have included us in their estate plans are recognized in our Legacy Society. If you are interested in finding out how you can include Wings of Hope in your legacy and estate planning, please email Laura Helling at or call 636-537-1302.

Honor Of…

A. C. “Butch” Giessman

  • Richard Bennett

April May

  • Angel May
  • Donald and Phyllis May

Arnold Kreitman

  • Melinda Jane Nielson

Ben and Nick Teague

  • Anonymous

Chris Waltz

  • June Peters

Dave Andrysek

  • Sharon Hild

Dave Pogorzelski

  • Kenneth W Schafermeyer

Deborah Berryman

  • Laura Okimi

Don H. and Sally Morton

  • Todd H. Morton
  • Tiffany J. Schroeder

Don Kukla

  • Joyce O’Connor
  • Patricia M. Kukla

Francis Heilmann

  • John Heilmann

Jack Taylor

  • Jason Mathes
  • Dave and Kathy Hawkins

James D. Moffat, IV

  • Laura (Murch) Moran

Jay Rickmeyer

  • Richard Denda

Jean Henderson

  • Paul and Kathy Lang
  • Richard and Sandra Nieman

Jess Watson

  • Eileen Watson

John Schmidt, (Ret)

  • Robert and Carolyn Cowherd

Joseph Baldwin

  • Raeanna Rutter

Larry Lemke

  • Gary C. and Gail Voss

Larry Masters

  • Jeanie Myers

M Caroyln Gamache

  • Timothy and Nancy Rickmeyer

Mark Cutler

  • Laura Cutler

Nadine Boyd

  • Peggy Stelloh

Owen Kehrer

  • David Marckel
  • Bill and Deborah Everley
  • Ben & Jana Kehrer
  • Judy Hays
  • Wayne Monroe
  • Brenton Moore
  • William Troy Gardner
  • Richard D Allen
  • Edward Jones
  • Paul Maro Johnson

Owen Moeller

  • Miriam Hatoum

Paul B Anderson

  • BNSF Railway Foundation

Robert S. and Louise Nation

  • Barry B. and Laverne M. Flachsbart

Steve Akre

  • Signa M. and Robert Jr.
  • Hermann, Jr

T.J. Stewart

  • Laura Okimi

Tommie Bates Moore

  • Geri Kovath

Travis H. Brown

  • Timothy K. and Laura H. Reeves

Memory Of…

Albert Eder

  • Kimberly Lough
  • Karen Peters
  • Douglas Voerding

Brian Bewley

  • Jean F Moore

Bruce Baker

  • Lois Haller

Candace Ransom Long

  • Lorraine M. Long

Cecilia Waggoner

  • Bayne C. Gregory
  • Jean Meyer

Charlie Mercer

  • Alfredo Lopez
  • Dianne Taylor
  • Pamela Schwarz
  • Dolores Hitch
  • La Vada Hancock
  • Donald Petersen
  • Valerie Brasher

Chuck Huffman

  • Clair Navarrette
  • Joann Karnowski
  • Dave Mass
  • Arnold Kreitman
  • Didion Manufacturing Co.
  • John and Sylvia Pope
  • Jerry and Joanne Ramsey
  • West Plex Community Church
  • Patricia Romano
  • Helen Kouba
  • S.H. Connett-Jerrison
  • Peggy L. McClintock
  • William D. Meyer
  • JS Simko

Cyndi Hild Dunn

  • Ronald E. and Ann Jones
  • Earl G. and Sandra Lindenberg
  • Dorothy Rasche
  • John Schmidt, (Ret)
  • Jerome B. and Arlene Spector
  • Donna Broccard
  • Larry Lemke
  • Emily A. Williams
  • Laurence J. and Christie J. Tietjen
  • Nadine Boyd
  • Alan and Judith Aaron
  • Anonymous
  • Richard Pinckert
  • Scott and Judith L. Sieve Langewisch
  • Cynthia F. Gesme
  • F. Roger and Barbara Dierberg
  • Anonymous
  • Donald Wuerch
  • Joyce and Charles Parrott
  • Fred Meyland-Smith
  • Elbert H. and Elizabeth A. Cason

Dana Bain

  • Richard Larson

Edward Leriche

  • Shirley Bergfeld
  • Merle Leriche

Edwin P. Neikirk, Sr.

  • Joyce Neikirk

Elwyn “Al” Bowell

  • Bob Cummiskey
  • Wallace B. and Mary Diboll
  • Richard and Linda Jones
  • Carl J. Fust
  • Mr. and Mrs. Orville “O.B.” and Annemarie Johnson
  • Gatesworth Residents Assoc.
  • Robert C. and Betty Little
  • Salvatore P. and Celia Sutera
  • Katherine S. Rutter

Err Ashford

  • Bill Hoffman

Glenn Alexander

  • Roger and Catherine Montgomery

James Browder

  • Anne G. Kilpatrick
  • Wallace B. and Mary Diboll
  • Justin R. and Nicole Giessman
  • Albert Cawns

Jesse Lazear

  • John Schmidt

John W. Anderson

  • Kenda Caskey
  • Joyce Noxon
  • Amy Aitken
  • William Juergens
  • Catherine Moore
  • Mike and Beth Styve

Lawrence Schaefer

  • Anonymous

Linda Wallace Jones

  • Richard and Linda Jones

Lisa Franze

  • Michael and Judy Franze

Mary Biersack

  • Lillian Wondra

Mason Wienke

  • Carla Wienke
  • John and Marie McCutcheon

Narvel Westfall

  • Greater St Louis Business Aviation Association (GSLBAA)

Paul Francis

  • St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church

Philip Coulter

  • Robert L. and Janet Roberts
  • Gerry Mundt

Phyllis Robichaud

  • Jason Chandler

Raymond Baker

  • Lorraine M. Long

Richard E. Hrabko

  • August A. Busch III Charitable Trust
  • John Schmidt, (Ret)

Robert Adelmann

  • James and Lois Criscione

Robert Clack

  • Rita Ryan
  • Jeffrey J Hellenbrand
  • Polytech Plastic Molding, Inc.
  • Jeff H Hellenbrand
  • Barb Ryan
  • Dwight and Bonnie Ziegler
  • Tamara Hellenbrand
  • Nicolas Chabbert
  • Janis Bernd
  • Dale Evans
  • Sofie Pollet
  • Douglas Horner
  • Penney Wetherbee
  • MHK Retirement Partners
  • Michelle Acker
  • Patricia Yee
  • Charlene Rittel
  • Rose Marsden
  • Jim Gempeler
  • Jay Smith
  • Kurt Gruett
  • William Scheibel
  • David Lenz
  • Barbara Coleman
  • Richard Best
  • Renita Wilkes
  • Judy Spiegel
  • Ryan Chandler
  • Pamela Schwotzer
  • Judith Haag
  • Kathryn Hengel
  • Susan Vergeront
  • Mary Weiker
  • Jeanne Shearer
  • Rebecca Cramer
  • Dawn Zeimet
  • Jose and Mary Rojo
  • Myra Pfaffenbach
  • Bonnie Laffey
  • Julia Short

Robert Kortkamp

  • Christine Maxwell

Robert Park

  • Charles and Marcella Grimmett
  • John and Nancy Houston
  • Jim and Barbara Wiebe
  • Banccentral National Assoc.
  • Tom Georgia Wedman
  • Diane Botkin
  • Margaret Graves
  • Randy Ricke
  • J. C. Long
  • Leonard and Cheryl Stevens
  • Gerald and Carolyn Stevens
  • Joe McCray
  • Brian and Marcella Stevens
  • Jerry and Charlene Hall
  • Marvin and Toni Stevens
  • Vic and Joy Thetge
  • Galen and Teresa Stevens
  • Carol Bassford
  • Dora Timmerman
  • Richard Claflin
  • Carole Wilcox
  • Harper Art Association
  • Debra L. Augustyn
  • Delbert and Mary Hostetler
  • Velma Anthony
  • Karen Sue Francis
  • Harold and Nita Pearl
  • Robert Stephens
  • Mark and Paulette Schlegel
  • Gary and Mary Baker
  • Dana Hall
  • Lyle Pearl

Robert Zietinger

  • St. Louis Chapter, Missouri Pilots Association

Winfield Winter

  • Linda Lemke