By Terry Stephens
Pilot Richard Newman’s 6-year-old daughter Carli battled a rare form of cancer for nearly three years before its remission. Now Newman has formed the nonprofit Children’s Air Corps to raise research funds for Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.
His goal is to raise $500,000 this year for the hospital where research helped to provide the clinical trial chemotherapy treatment that saved Carli’s life. To gain support, he’s reaching out to other pilots coast-to-coast, welcoming contributions as small as the cost of a gallon of aviation fuel up to much larger donations.
“Children’s Air Corps gives wings to kids’ hopes of beating cancer,” Newman said. “Carli was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma in 2004, when she was 3 years old. Because of the cancer research and skills of doctors at Children’s Hospital, her disease is in remission, and she faces a hopeful future.”
Newman hasn’t taken the time to relax and put his own life—strained by nearly three years of heartache—back in order. He worked two jobs to help pay for Carli’s treatments and was deeply involved in her fight against a cancerous tumor around her heart.
“Now I can do something about payback,” he said. “Kaitlin Richmond, a hospital patient who had become close friends with Carli, died of her cancer. I took Carli to her funeral. Those experiences with Carli and Kaitlin inspired me to do something to raise more research funds for fighting childhood cancers.”
Children’s Air Corps is an established nonprofit guild affiliated with the hospital, organized to raise money to help find improved treatments for a variety of childhood cancers, particularly neuroblastoma, which killed Kaitlin.
“Treatments presently have only a 15 percent success rate, but the hospital is the nation’s leader in neuroblastoma research,” Newman said.
Children’s Hospital sponsors the new group, which began its fundraising in January. Newman, chief flight instructor for Northway Aviation, a Cessna dealership and flight training facility at Paine Field (PAE) in Everett, Wash., said a minimum of 70 percent of the money raised must be provided to the hospital. He expects to pass on as much as 80 percent, with the rest going to promote fundraising campaigns.
A pilot since high school and a flight instructor since his college graduation, Newman said his long involvement in aviation inspired him to turn to fellow pilots for help.
“We’ve just started spreading the word, but already we have a group of pilots working with us and making contributions to help,” he said. “I hope the aviation community will respond, not only to help the cancer research, but also to bolster aviation’s image with the general public.”
Newman has high hopes for his fundraising goal.
“Children with cancer are coming to the hospital, hoping they’ll emerge alive and healthy,” he said. “We want to help, and I believe other pilots will help, too. If each of the nearly 500,000 members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association contributed at least the price of a gallon of aviation fuel, we’d more than meet our initial half-million-dollar dream. We’ll list donors and their home airports on the group’s website.”
Newman’s first public fundraising promotion was in January at the Northwest Aviation Conference and Trade Show in Puyallup, south of Seattle. He’ll also be at the Skagit Tulip Festival Fly-In and Air Show on April 28 at Skagit Regional Airport (BVS) and the Washington Pilots Association General Membership Annual Meeting and Convention at the Future of Flight Aviation Center at Paine Field on May 12.
Other events he plans to attend include Airport Journals’ Porsche Business Aircraft & Jet Preview at Boeing Field (BFI) on July 19; the Northwest Experimental Aircraft Association Fly-In and Sport Aviation Convention at Arlington Airport (AWO) from July 11-15; and the Concrete Old Fashioned Fly-In (3W5), Concrete, Wash., July 27-29.
For information, call 425-422-4811 or visit [http://www.childrensaircorps.com]. Contributions can be sent to Richard Newman, c/o Northway Aviation, 10108 32nd Ave. W., Bldg. C3, Suite 1B, Everett, WA 98204.