LAS VEGAS – Levi Krystosek is a frequent flier, but he is not a jet setter by choice or for leisure. In fact, if he had his choice, his 13th cross-country flight held on June 22 would not be necessary.
Levi is 10 years old. He has a rare, incurable form of dwarfism, one that prevents his bones from strengthening enough to support his weight as he grows. Among other procedures, he has had surgery to realign both ankles to relieve pain and increase mobility. His condition also has resulted in kidney disease, hearing difficulty and loss of vision in one eye due to optic nerve atrophy.
“He wears special eyewear to protect his good eye,” his mother, Dona, says. “We call them his ‘superhero goggles’.”
Miracle Flights, a not-for-profit organization that provides free commercial airline tickets to seriously ill patients so that they may receive treatment and visit specialists throughout the country, coordinated flights with Southwest Airlines to fly Levi from New Orleans to Philadelphia so that a specialist in nearby Wilmington, Delaware can evaluate his condition.
Levi’s trip to his consulting appointment marked the 100,000th Miracle Flight in the organization’s three-decade history. Since 1985, Miracle Flights has logged nearly 56 million miles, crisscrossing the country and the globe to shorten the distance for numerous children and adults in need of critical care.
“While we all wish these flights were unnecessary, Miracle Flights and our generous partner, Southwest Airlines, is excited to be sharing this milestone with Levi,” said Mark E. Brown, CEO of Miracle Flights. “His personality and heart are larger than life. He inspires us every day, and we are proud to continue to support him as he works to overcome his battle with Jansen’s Metaphyseal Chondrodysplasia.”
Southwest Airlines and Miracle Flights themed Levi’s flight as the kick-off of his rock star tour. Celebration participants all wore customized shirts titled, “Little Levi and the 100,000 Miracles.” The gate at the New Orleans-based airport featured a live band and a special VIP send-off to Levi on the flight with a red carpet, posters and concert memorabilia. Additionally, the New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport hosted a fire cannon salute to the Southwest Airlines flight upon take-off.
“At Southwest, our purpose is to connect people to what’s important in their lives and what is more important than connecting people to specialized care,” said Debra Benton, Southwest Airlines Director for Community Programs and Engagement. “We are honored to partner with organizations like Miracle Flights, through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, and share our LUV during such a critical time. Congratulations and thank you to Miracle Flights on this momentous milestone!”
“All I have ever wanted for Levi is a productive, pain-free life,” Dona says. “Miracle Flights is giving him his chance at that. It’s hard to put into words how thankful we are to them.”
Miracle Flights’ efficient operation and generous sponsors make it possible to fly children to medical appointments for a mere 78 cents per mile. Miracle Flights is asking everyone to celebrate its 100,000th milestone with the indomitable spirit exhibited by Levi and other brave children like him with a donation through the miracleflights.org website.
“These flights represent real people – sick children and their families – that have been granted the hope of a healthier future. Our 100,000th flight reminds us of how far we’ve come, as well as how far we have to go to ensure everyone has access to specialized medical care,” Brown said. “Every $20 donation carries a sick child 25 miracle miles closer to the specialized treatment he or she needs.”
About Miracle Flights
Miracle Flights is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free medical air transportation via commercial airlines throughout the United States. Now in its 30th year of operation, Miracle Flights has coordinated more than 97,000 flights and counting. For more information about Miracle Flights, to request flight assistance, or to make a donation, call 800-359-1711 or visit www.miracleflights.org.
# # #
Media Contact: Jennifer Bradley | MassMedia
702-433.4331 (Office) | 702.234.9385 (Cell)