MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A nonprofit in West Michigan is raising money to continue providing free air travel to patients who need transportation across the country.

Wings of Mercy, a faith-based nonprofit and volunteer pilot organization, is in its 31st year of offering this service to residents.

Stephanie Cutler, who was diagnosed with stage three rectal cancer in 2019, has depended on the nonprofit to get to and from the Mayo Clinic, which is located in Minnesota.

“It’s just priceless. There aren’t direct flights to where I go so there’s a lot of time, a lot of money that’s saved,” Cutler said. “They really are able to let you put your priority on your healing and save it for medical expenses and they take the burden of that worry away.”

Since receiving her diagnosis, Cutler has used the Wings of Mercy at least a 10 times for various appointments including scans, surgeries and follow ups.

Not only is it a blessing for the patients, but the pilots who fly the planes say they are just as lucky.

“That’s just what God has directed us to do,” John Workman said.

Workman is a pilot with Wings of Mercy and has been flying patients around with the nonprofit for approximately 25 years.

The community was able to come to FlightLevel Aviation in Muskegon and learn more about the nonprofit’s mission, donate to its cause and take a look at some of the planes that are used to transport patients to and from medical centers.

There was also a 5k run and walk to benefit Wings of Mercy.

“They treat you with such respect and care and to not have travel worries is huge. If you can help, if you can help make a flight possible, a donation makes a huge difference in someone’s life,” Cutler said.

Workman has been part of about 300 missions though the nonprofit. Wings of Mercy has flown in over 8,000 missions since it was founded in 1991. He says donations are especially needed as we continue to see a rise in fuel costs.

Plane owners in the area and in surrounding states let the nonprofit use their aircrafts for minimal costs.

“We pay the pilots and plane owners for the fuel and of course that’s getting expensive these days.
The plane costs three times more than the fuel costs. The plane owners are donating a lot but we help reimburse them with their fuel costs. Without that, we might not be able to do it,” Workman said.

If you would like to learn more, visit the Wings of Mercy website.