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Wings of Mercy fundraiser aims to continue free air travel for those in need of distant health care

Planes like this one at Muskegon County Airport fly lakeshore residents to distant medical facilities free of charge.

Faith-based non-profit hosts 27th annual Muskegon Care Affaire Saturday, as officials say, the service has saved countless lives over the years.

In an effort to provide free and private-plane travel to area residents facing a health crisis that requires care far from home, local faith based non-profit Wings of Mercy hosted its 27th Annual Muskegon Care Affaire on Saturday, June 10th.

The organization says it is “dedicated to helping people in need have access to life-saving medical care by arranging free flights to distant medical facilities.”

Grace Spelde is Wings of Mercy’s managing director.

She says, there is a “financial burden associated with serious illness and travel.” while for others, “public transportation is just too risky for someone with a compromised immune system or a debilitating injury.”

That's where Wings of Mercy steps in.

“We’re here to solve a problem, and that is access to health care,” Spelde said. “We want everyone to have the same level of health care. And if geographic distance is the reason why you can’t get there, then we want to help you with that, or if your immune system just can’t (or) won’t allow for commercial travel, we want to help you with at (as well.”)

Wings of Mercy has assembled over 200 pilots on the lakeshore to help in the cause; all who work for free, and all who fly their own or borrowed private planes.

Event Co-Chair Paul Medenbach has been a pilot for the organization for roughly 20 years.

He says, it's been an "amazing blessing" to fly for those in search of hope.

“I tell you, I have taken people to Mayo Clinic, to Cleveland Clinic, transplants to Madison Wisconsin,” Medenbach said. “It is a great cause.”

Meanwhile, the organization says, the biggest need is jet fuel, which of course, is not cheap.

Anyone can donate online at WingsOfMercy.org, as well as learn how to be a volunteer pilot for the organization as well.