Pilots Organization Helps Reunite Long Island Family - NBC New York

Pilots Organization Helps Reunite Long Island Family



    A mom’s cry for help, posted on a Facebook page, helped reunite a Long Island family Wednesday after a nonprofit pilots organization took notice. Greg Cergol reports. (Published Thursday, April 10, 2014)

    A mom’s cry for help posted on a Facebook page helped reunite a Long Island family Wednesday after a nonprofit organization of pilot volunteers took notice.

    Screams of “Hi daddy” echoed across Long Island’s MacArthur Airport as Lisa Kowalewski and two of her five kids embraced the husband and father they had not seen in three weeks.

    Chris Kowalewski, a Nassau county corrections officer, had just returned home after receiving lifesaving stomach surgery at a Maryland hospital.

    He was flown back to Long Island free of charge by Patient Airlift Services after his wife, Lisa Kowalewski posted about the family's plight. The organization, also known as PALS, uses a network of pilots to ferry families in need.

    “I am so amazed that by sending out one prayer all this could be put together,” said Lisa Kowalewski.

    Lisa Kowalewski posted that prayer April 1 on a Facebook page titled “Massapequa Mommas.”

    She asked the page's subscribers to pray for her husband since she could not get to Maryland with her kids during the surgery.

    The prayer was answered by Eileen Minogue, a “Massapequa Momma” who also runs PALS.

    The flight was the 5,000th since the charitable organization was founded in 2010. The cost of every flight is covered by the pilots, who volunteer both their time and aircraft.

    “It’s a pay-it-forward sort of thing,” said pilot Douglas Wohl, who flew Kowalewski home.

    “We're so grateful, it’s unbelievable,” Chris Kowalewski said. “It’s a blessing that they did this.”

    PALS’ pilots have carried medical equipment to Haiti and sick children to hospitals, serving those in need all along the eastern seaboard.

    “We want them to focus on getting better, not how am I going to get there,”  Minogue said.

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