XENIA — Owners of a local business donated two new wheelchairs to Honor Flight Dayton Aug. 25 after learning the organization needed more wheelchairs for their upcoming flights to take veterans to Washington, D.C.
Deborah and Cecil Patrick, who own and operate Key Mobility Services on Route 68, found out about the need for wheelchairs when Gary McLaughlin, a veterans committee member at the Xenia Elks, gave the couple a call.
Cecil Patrick told McLaughlin he didn’t have any used wheelchairs available to donate. Then he ordered two brand new chairs.
“He told me he needed them so I ordered them,” Patrick said. “You do what you can when you can.”
The Patricks’ daughter, Amanda Myer, spent a day creating artwork for the side of each chair. The stickers read “Key Mobility Supports Veterans,” complete with a saluting veteran in stars and stripes.
The two wheelchairs are ready just in time for the next Honor Flight, which will take off from Dayton International Airport the morning of Saturday, Sept. 2. A second fall flight is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4.
Honor Flight Dayton takes veterans of WWII, Korean and Vietnam Wars to see the national memorials in Washington, D.C. Trips are provided at no cost to qualified veterans, with guardians attending for a fee.
Ninety-five veterans are signed up for the September flight, including fifteen WWII vets, according to Al Bailey, Honor Flight Dayton vice president. Applications are required to be considered for a flight. There is an on-going wait list, giving priority to WWII veterans and terminally ill veterans.
According to Bailey, the need for wheelchairs is so crucial because the organization discourages veterans to bring their own wheelchairs in case of possible damage during air travel.
“This is very, very critical to us,” Bailey said. “This will help us out considerably.”
Bailey said a total of about 50 wheelchairs will be used on each flight. According to Bailey, the flights not only allow veterans to talk about their service with each other, but also opens up communication with family members after the flights are over.
“We’re giving them the Welcome Home they never had,” he said, describing their arrival back at the Dayton Airport, where friends and family greet them. “They’re getting thanked for the first time.”
Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.