Charles Stites has to sleep really well at least some nights.
The Able Flight organization he founded believes in something big: giving people a second chance at life, specifically by awarding them with scholarships to learn to fly.
Two scholarship winners, Heather Schultz and Sean O'Donnell, are partially paralyzed young people who not only refused to give up on life after their injuries, they decided to take action in a bold way: by using their Able Flight scholarships to earn their Sport Pilot licenses.
They didn't stop there.
Pairing up to pay forward the opportunity Able Flight gave them, they've staged their own 1,000 mile fund raising flight, dubbed Freedom Flight 2011, to earn enough money to award at least two similar scholarships to wounded veterans and show others who have a desire to push through even the most daunting of challenges.
I met them both here at Sebring, just after they arrived at in Sean's specially modified Sky Arrow 600 tandem LSA, after event stops in Philadelphia, PA, Frederick, MD, Richmond, VA and Atlanta, GA.Both are inspiring, upbeat people.
I spent several minutes with Sean who described how the specially modified controls allow him and Heather to fly the airplane using only their arms.
The Freedom Flight 2011 odyssey has already raised enough money for more than one scholarship and is closing in on the second one.
If you'd like to help, surf on over to the official donation site here...there's another 1,000 miles still to fly back home. Here's a chance for all of us to chip in, even if it's just a penny a mile, to help a wounded veteran get wings.
I just donated and I expect to sleep just a bit better myself tonight, knowing there are people like these two intrepid pilots, and Charles Stites, the Hansen Brothers from Hansen Air Group who've supported Able Flight all along, and industry leaders like Bob Stangarone of Cessna, a member of Able Flight's Advisory Board.
A toast to you, one and all.