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Patients from Craig Hospital Soar with Jeppesen

May 06, 2012

Therapeutic Recreation is an important part of the rehabilitation process at Craig Hospital. The program encompasses horticulture, art, culinary classes, and many sports activities, including hand cycling, skiing, camping, fishing, sailing and even hot-air ballooning. In addition, outings are scheduled 3-4 times a week to places such as movie theaters, shopping facilities, sports events, and restaurants – an unlimited plethora of choices demonstrating what can be possible after a catastrophic injury. During these outings, patients are also indirectly educated on transportation issues, accessibility, and caring for themselves in a variety of situations.
Preparing for FlightAccording to a patient, the Craig staff has an intuitive sense for discovering hidden interests and talents, or what a patient’s interests were prior to their injuries. This discovery, combined with engineering, adaptive technology, and help from our community and business partners, makes nearly anything possible – just possible in a new and different way.

Last Saturday’s patient outing began with a trip to Centennial Airport to experience flight in a small plane with a tour of the front range. As five people in wheelchairs rolled into the terminal, they were greeted by staff from Jeppesen in bright green t-shirts, and a spread of food comparable to a cruise ship buffet. They were introduced to the Jeppesen team and given an overview of day’s event, as their faces reflected a seesaw of trepidation and elation. Group Shot

jeppesen2When they rolled out on the tarmac to three planes lined up especially for them, the stage was set, with their family members clicking cameras in time to the staccato of chatter from the control tower. A Colorado blue-sky with a warm breeze showcased the Rocky Mountains, still capped with a crown of snow. Staff from Jeppesen carefully chose the best plane for each patient, and working with the Craig Therapeutic Recreation staff, safely assisted them in making the transfer from their wheelchairs into the planes. Engines started, propellers turned, and as each plane individually taxied out to the runway, the smiles grew even brighter — not only on the faces of the patients, but also on the faces of the pilots – a shining badge exhibiting the simple love for what they do.

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It takes a team willing to invest their time and themselves in careful planning and practice to successfully and seamlessly pull off such an endeavor. Special thanks to Centennial Airport, Denver Jet Center East, and especially, to Mark Van Tyne and his professional, compassionate team for their patience and attention to detail in making all of this work to result in an unforgettable experience for all of us there to witness it.

Photo Credit: Mary Bonner. All rights reserved.