Families with critically ill children got the chance to temporarily forget about the daily struggles of battling sickness to take flight in a unique experience in Pitt County.
The 4th annual Fly Free to be Me event was held at the Pitt-Greenville Airport Saturday.
More than 100 kids and WITN’s Mackenzie Roberts took to the sky in either an airplane or helicopter.
16-year-old Jacob Thorpe is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He says the experience changed him. “It’s like when they say in the documentaries, when you depart Mother Earth for the first time, you’re changed forever… you’re changed forever. You’re not the same.”
Parents we talked to, like Farrah Owens, said they were so thrilled for their children to have this experience. Owens’s 10-year-old son, Drew, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma in 2014. They celebrated his 18-month mark of being cancer-free.
Owens said, “They put so much into it, it’s just wonderful. It’s nice to know that that many people care and that many people want to help families that are going through things like this.”
Besides the rides, there were plenty of other activities for the families to participate in and they were all completely free. Free to be Me founder Mike Roberson says the event would not have been possible without the many volunteers and sponsors.
Many of the children who participated are receiving treatment at Vidant Medical Center and are affiliated with organizations like Riley’s Army, the Dream Factory of Eastern Carolina, or Beau’s Buddies Cancer Fund.
By Mackenzie Roberts, Elisse Ramey