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A Chance to Fly Again

A community comes together to make this hospice patient’s dream come true.



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A Chance to Fly Again

Terry Meland is a 71-year-old former mortgage banker who has a love of riding motorcycles and flying airplanes. When Terry was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis eleven years ago, he had to give up some of his favorite hobbies. The motorcycle he loved to ride was sold and he was no longer allowed to hold a private pilot’s license.

The disease Terry has been living with makes every breath a struggle. “Think of it as arthritis of the lungs,” he says. He has trouble breathing and standing for long periods of time. Despite living with this debilitating illness, Terry tenaciously maintains a positive outlook on life. “Any damn fool can be miserable,“ he says. “Why spend a lot of time being miserable?”

When Terry began to receive services from Center for Hospice Care in South Bend, Indiana, he told his social worker about his bucket list. “I was hoping to get one more shot at flying an airplane,” he says. After they got the go-ahead from his doctors, Amy Tribbett, director of marketing and access for Center for Hospice Care jumped into action and posted a plea on Facebook looking for a pilot. Almost immediately, they received a reply from Brandon Herzog, department manager for Indiana Flight Center at Elkhart Municipal Airport.

“Fellow pilots, we call it the flying family - Terry is part of that family and we’re happy to do that for him, Brandon said.

Just weeks after the Facebook post, a crowd of family, friends and staff from Center for Hospice Care watched Terry climb into the Cessna 172. Brandon and Terry took to the skies for a thirty minute flight with Terry at the controls. A GoPro camera in the plane and a camera team on the ground captured what the day was like for this passionate aviator.

When the plane landed, Terry stepped out with a grin spread across his face. After Brandon helped extract Terry’s oxygen tank from the seat, the two pilots shook hands and smiled. “It was phenomenal. I can’t say enough how grateful I am,” said Terry.

Terry’s wife Beverly says that he remains upbeat despite his debilitating disease.  “I think the closer it gets to the end of his life the more gratitude he feels,” she says.

To learn more about the Center for Hospice Care, visit their webpage.

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