Las Vegas Sun

June 23, 2018

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FINDLAY GOOD WORKS:

Nonprofit spreads its wings for sick children

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Steve Marcus

Mark E. Brown, CEO of Miracle Flights, poses in the charity’s offices Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Miracle Flights provides air travel to low-income children who need to obtain special medical care.

Mark Brown, of Miracle Flights

• Title: CEO

• Agency address: 740 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 240, Las Vegas NV 89119

• Agency phone number: 702-261-0494

• Agency website: miracleflights.org

• Hours of operation: 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday

• To volunteer: Financial assistance is always helpful. But something else that can assist in our efforts is to donate frequent flyer miles to us. And, of course, we are always looking for volunteers.

What is Findlay Good Works?

Good Works is a twice-monthly series in The Sunday in which we highlight the efforts of nonprofit groups that are making a difference in our community. You can check out the good work of more organizations by visiting facebook.com/FindlayAutoGroup.

What does your organization do? Miracle Flights provides commercial air travel to sick children and their families to obtain specialized medical care. Many of the children we fly have rare and life-threatening conditions. There may be only one doctor or hospital in the country that treats these conditions. We provide free airline tickets as many times as needed. We average around 700 flights a month throughout the country.

When and why was it established? Founded 33 years ago by Ann McGee, Miracle Flights originally started flying sick children using private pilots. McGee built a national network of these pilots, and our organization was originally known as Angel Plane or Angel Flights. About 12 years ago, we transitioned to Miracle Flights and began using commercial airlines.

Miracle Flights is the only national charity that started in Las Vegas and continues to be based here.

Who are its clients today? Any sick child up to age 18, anywhere in the country. We have certain income requirements, and patients must have a referral from a local physician.

What are Miracle Flights’ goals? It took the organization 30 years to complete 100,000 flights. Our goal is to make the next 100,000 flights in 10 years.

Miracle Flights was recently named a national charity partner of UFC and through that, we aim to increase the awareness of the organization throughout the country.

What services do you offer that the community might not know about? In certain circumstances, we fly adults for specialized medical care, as well as veterans. We also have a service dog retrieval program, where we fly patients of all ages for training or retrieval of their service dogs.

In response to the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Miracle Flights offered to fly families of the victims into Las Vegas. We also have offered to fly survivors and their families home and, if necessary, to specialized care that they might need during recovery. We want these people to know that Miracle Flights and the Las Vegas community will stick by them, no matter how long it takes.

What sparked your interest in the nonprofit sector? Having lived here for most of my life, I realize what a unique community we have. Over the years, I have been lucky enough to volunteer for many organizations and donate or raise money for many more. The nonprofit sector is a big part of the fabric of this community, and having the opportunity to lead a national organization based here is something for which I am very grateful.

What is the greatest success you’ve been a part of? Achieving our 100,000th flight in June of 2015.

What can Southern Nevadans do to improve our community in general? Engage in more random acts of kindness.

Whom do you admire? I admire and I am in awe of the families we work with. The challenges these sick children face and what their parents deal with every day is awe-inspiring. I am surrounded by heroes every day.

Where do you see your organization in five years? Miracle Flights is becoming a national brand in the nonprofit sector. We will continue to create partnerships with national and international organizations to expand our brand and awareness of our services. We are lucky to have a great partner in Southwest Airlines and, over the next few years, we will expand our partnerships with other airlines.

Anything else you want to tell us? Miracle Flights fills a huge gap in our country’s health care system. If you have a child who is diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, it is a heartbreaking and life-changing event. When you are told that there is help but it is only available across the country, this for many families is an insurmountable logistical challenge and huge cost. There is no private insurance or government program that covers the cost of transportation to and from these medical appointments.

Miracle Flights is the only organization in the country that fills this gap by providing free airline transportation to children and families to receive this distant medical care.

We like to say “We have a cure for distance.”