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IND Coordinators

Christopher Fuson

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IND - Indianapolis, IN

Welcome to the Indianapolis, IN Pilots For Kids homepage. Learn how to get involved and participate in Pilots For Kids activities in the Indianapolis, IN area.


News

Dedication and Grand Opening of our PFK Airplane Room!

Last updated 4 months ago

The Dedication and Grand Opening of our PFK Airplane Room took place on May 18th, 2018. About 65 Indy PFK members and their families attended. Executive management from FedEx Express, Republic Airways Holdings, FedEx ALPA, Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, and the St. Vincent Foundation were also in attendance. Professional photographers from FedEx, Republic, and the hospital were there to record the event. The reception opened in the lobby with a prayer and dedication of the room by the hospital chaplain. Following the opening dedication, Dr. Marandi of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, Nancy Frick of the St. Vincent Foundation and Captain Dan of Indy PFK all spoke. After the reception, there was another dedication at the room by the hospital chaplain and then the ribbon cutting. The room was then opened for tours and pictures. Please take a look at the picture gallery below.

Dedication and Grand Opening of our PFK/Airplane Room

Last updated 6 months ago

Please join me on Friday, May 18th at 11AM as we celebrate the dedication and grand opening of our Pilots For Kids/Airplane themed room at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. All PFK members and their families are invited.

The reception will begin in the lobby with light refreshments and an opening prayer by the hospital chaplain. The president of St. Vincent Hospital, the president of PMCH, Nancy Frick from the St. Vincent Foundation, and I will each say a few words. Then a group will go upstairs for the ribbon cutting and blessing of the room followed by groups of guests going up to see the room for a tour and photos. The entire program should take about 45 minutes.

I sincerely hope you can attend the grand opening in order to see what your generosity has helped produce.

Please let me know if you are planning to attend, how many will be in your party, and please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or concerns.

Dan

317-408-0267

Indy PFK, doing what we do...

Last updated 9 months ago

We met 112 people, including parents and siblings at our Riley Children's Hospital event this year (December 15th). All of the kids have a personal and special story but please allow me to share the individual stories of two heroic kids who were there: Christian and Hope. Spending the afternoon with them and brightening their day encapsulates the reason that Indy PFK does what it does.

It was Christian's 54th day in the hospital. His diagnosis was a rare form of pediatric glioma (brain cancer) known as BRAF Fusion, PXA grade three. The particular gene mutation within his glioma, however, has never been seen before. Christian is the first person known to medical science to have this form of brain cancer. He's six. He has had three brain surgeries and one lung surgery since being admitted to Riley. His dad told me that two weeks ago he couldn't stand, walk, talk, raise his left arm, or utilize fine motor skills. When we met him he was talking more than a EWR approach controller during rush hour. He took our 727 yoke in both hands and "flew" wherever he went in the room. He wanted to know what all the buttons and switches did (he asked me if the mic switch was for launching missiles). He was laughing and visibly excited to be there. But here's why I'm relaying this story: When Christian was painting his wooden airplane at the craft station, his mom approached me and told me that Christian hasn't laughed or smiled since they have been in the hospital. Then she told me that Christian just told her that he was "so happy that he was shaking".

Hope is eight years old. Her mom told me that Hope has a congenital defect in which one side of the heart is severely underdeveloped resulting in being born with essentially half a heart. Hope has also recently had a stroke which has resulted in her inability to speak. She can understand everything that is said, however. She and her mother have developed a remarkable "language" with each other where Hope uses hand signals and sounds. For some inexplicable reason, Hope loves to be around pilots. She loves flying as a passenger with her mom and she loves to go to the flight deck and hang out with the pilots before and after their flights. Her mom told me that she and Hope attended our Riley event last year and couldn't wait for it to happen again this year. Hope's smile lit up the room and she even wore her special airline captain uniform for the occasion (see pic). She insisted on an individual picture with each of our pilots. Then she wanted a group picture with four or five of the pilots. Then she wanted a group shot with her and all of the pilots. Hope got whatever she wanted. She really wants to be a pilot someday so we had to make that happen too. We made Hope an honorary FedEx captain with seniority effective December 15, 2017. We are lucky to have her.

It's your generosity of time, treasure, spirit and energy that makes it possible for us to enjoy the honor and privilege of spending time with kids like Hope and Christian. Special thanks to Mike Meskis for coordinating an outstanding Riley Holiday Party again this year. And thank YOU for making this, and all of our events throughout the year possible.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year.

St. Mary's Child Care Center visits, 2017

Last updated 9 months ago

Many thanks to long-time Indy PFK member Chris Fuson for coordinating both of our St. Mary's Child Care Center visits this year. Here's the recap from Chris:

This year we were able to spread Christmas joy to over 150 kids spread between two separate St. Mary's Children Centers.

We kicked the school visiting season off with a visit to the downtown campus with 10 pilots from American, Delta, Fedex, Republic, and United Airlines. During our visit, we wowed the kids with our personal stories of flying, gave them "flying lessons", and read airplane stories. We were very fortunate to get some donated airplane parts from FedEx which allowed the kids to touch some gauges, flip some switches, and hold a 727 flight yoke. Our normal drone pilot could not attend, so we had to call up a reserve to fly it, which made for only a few CFITs.

Our next visit had us visit the Ft. Ben Campus. Manned with 12 pilots from American, Delta, Fedex, Republic, and United, we visited approximately 100 kids. We again were able to read some stories, share some flying experiences, and give the kids some "flying lessons". With nearly two hours allotted for us, we were also able to spend some much needed time with these kids, which allowed for our inner kid got to come out. We passed out the gifts, some pilot hats and sunglasses, and had some airplane races with little airplane toys.

I would personally like to Thank everyone who was able to attend our school sessions this year. We would not be able to do this without you guys. Thank you again!!

PFK/Airplane Room Update

Last updated 9 months ago

There are 32 themed rooms at Peyton Manning Children's hospital. They are all special and unique. Easily the coolest room, however, prior to the construction of our room, was the car room. A local Chevrolet dealer (who shall remain nameless, but his initials are Bill Estes) sponsored this room. Bill sawed off the tail end of a red Corvette and stuck it on the wall. The wall is painted to compliment the body of the car in such a way as to make it appear that the car is driving away from the occupants of the room. The tail and license plate lights even illuminate. Pretty cool. This is where the room designers, foundation staff, and I formulated the concept of a dimensional airplane "flying" out of the wall for our room. I chose the DC-6 because it's nostalgic, it would be fanciful for the kids, it provided service for numerous airlines and the military, and I just really like it.

Last September I delayed the grand opening and dedication of our PFK/Airplane room for two reasons: 1. The rendition of the DC-6 was not meeting my expectation of dimensionality . 2. The pilot uniform display case that was to be outside of the entrance to the room in the hallway had not been built or installed (it has since been built).

In early September, the St. Vincent foundation agreed to re-bid the contract for our DC-6. Of the four new bids received, only one contractor (Impressive Prototypes) met our design expectation of a dimensional airplane model and was also able to comply with the myriad of protocols (infection control, materials, paints, etc.) required by the hospital.

Upon review by hospital staff, however, it was determined that the propeller design did not meet the anti-ligation protocol required in all childrens' rooms (maybe I should have picked a jet). The propellers were re-designed with a new foam break-away material and the bid re-submitted. Last Monday, I got word from the contractor that his bid has been accepted and he is in receipt of a purchase order. This is the news that I have been waiting for prior to updating you on our room's progress.

The contractor has assured me that he can have it done by Christmas. Installation will depend on when the hospital will be able to close our room for a few days. Although everything may be done by Christmas, due to the busyness of the holidays, FedEx Peak, and in order to maximize attendance, I believe it is wise to plan for a grand opening and dedication in January. As soon as I get a date worked out with the foundation and the hospital, I will let you know.

Please take a look at the “work in progress” picture gallery, below. As you can see, the dimensionality issue has been resolved. The car room is cool, but it's about to be relegated to permanent second place.

2017 Indy PFK Season, Update One

Last updated 10 months ago

Quick update:

IU Riley North, Wednesday, 29 NOV, 1000: All slots filled. Alternate slots available.

Peyton Manning Children's Hospital, Thursday, 30 NOV, 1100. Five slots remaining, plus alternate slots.

Riley Children's Hospital (downtown), Friday 15 DEC, TIME CHANGE... NOW 1330. Our Child Life Specialist, Melissa, has requested that we arrive in the Child Life Room at 1330 now in order to set up craft stations and prepare for the kids' arrival at 1400. Star Wars fans: Bring your Light Sabres and prepare to use the Force. Surprised, you may be, if as planned, all things go.

10 slots remaining, plus alternate slots. Mike wanted me to add that, as always, there will be a post event de-brief at the Slippery Noodle. All are invited.

Both St. Mary's dates are still TBD.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns, and please let me know if you would like to attend any of these events!

Respectfully,

Dan Ferracciolo
Indy PFK Coordinator

317-408-0267

The 2017 Indy PFK Season is upon us!

Last updated 10 months ago

Dear Indy PFK:

The 2017 Indy PFK visitation season is upon us. Last year we visited 187 kids at St. Mary's Child care centers, 100% of whom live in poverty and 146 hospitalized kids in three children's hospitals. Let's do it again!

This year we will again visit all three local children's hospitals and both campuses of St. Mary's Child Care Center. As has become usual and customary, we will be slot limited due to infection and staffing protocol at the hospitals. There are no slot limits at either campus of St. Mary's, however, so the more the merrier and maximum pilot induced buffoonery (PIB) is expected and appreciated. St. Mary's has adopted a new all-day format at both campuses. There are no longer any half-day sessions so we will go to each campus only once in the morning as opposed to going twice to each campus as we have done in years past. What this means for us is a greater amount of time with fewer kids. Should be fun.

To our new members (we have many, from all over the industry) - welcome aboard! If this is your first visitation season with us, you can get an idea of what each visit looks like by viewing the pics from last year on our web page: pilotsforkids.org > members > IND. Please come to each event in the uniform of your choice: Airline, Military (bags ok) or corporate, and be prepared to engage with the kids and have fun. IOE will be provided. It's all about distracting the kids from whatever medical condition or life circumstance that they are experiencing at the moment. I am so grateful for your enthusiasm and willingness to participate in Indy PFK events. I think you will find that we get a lot more out of it than the kids do.

2017 Schedule:

IU Riley North: Wednesday, 29 NOV, 1000. Five slots. Traditional room to room visits.

Peyton Manning Children's Hospital: Thursday, 30 NOV, 1100. 12 slots. Traditional room to room visits.

Riley Children's Hospital (downtown): Friday, 15 DEC. 1330-1530. 20 slots. Kids and families come to us as we set up gift and craft stations in the Child Life Room on the main level. Possibly some limited room to room visits. As always, Mike Meskis is coordinating this event. Thank you Mike! (BTW...Star Wars fans are not going to want to miss this event...more later)

St. Mary's (both campuses): TBD. Longtime Indy PFK member Chris Fuson is coordinating the St. Mary's visits for me this year. He will have his schedule from UAL on 17 NOV. I will relay dates and times for both St. Mary's visits on or about that date. Many thanks to Chris for helping me coordinate these events.

As always I will relay the details (place to meet, where to park, etc.) of each visit to those who plan to attend as the date for each event approaches.

Thanks to your continued generosity we are in solid financial shape to start off the new season. This year our toy account received a $2500 kick start courtesy of the FedEx Pilot's Charitable Fund. Additionally, we have some leftover funds from 2016 and some of our members donate to our toy account monthly or quarterly throughout the year. If you would like to make a donation to our toy account this year, please go to our website: pilotsforkids.org , click on the donate button and follow the directions. Be sure to select IND-Ferracciolo on the drop down menu. If you would like to send a check, please email me and I'll relay directions on how to do so. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes directly to the kids we visit here locally.

I know some of you are anxious for news regarding our themed room at PMCH. Many thanks to those who have enquired about its status. The past two weeks have been especially productive...meeting with contractors, finalizing the north wall design, etc. Once the Purchase Order from the Foundation to the final contractor is approved, I will have a better idea of a timeline for a dedication and grand opening. Please look for an email and web-page update from me soon regarding our progress.

Thank YOU for your generosity of time, donations, enthusiasm, and spirit. You make it possible for us to distract a child, if only for a moment, from his or her life circumstances or medical condition and brighten their day. It is my honor and privilege to be your Indy PFK Coordinator. Please let me know if you would like to attend any of this year's visits.

Respectfully,

Dan Ferracciolo
Indy PFK Coordinator

317-408-0267

Donor Reception with Peyton Manning

Last updated 12 months ago

Four members of Indy Pilots For Kids (PFK) had the opportunity to attend a private donor reception hosted by the St.Vincent Foundation during the afternoon of August 29th. Representatives from 14 groups and organizations were recognized at the reception for their fundraising efforts in support of Peyton Manning Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. Indy PFK was honored at the event for its success in sponsoring a PFK/Airplane themed room (still under construction) at the hospital. Peyton Manning personally expressed his gratitude to each of the individuals who attended the reception. He was gracious, humble, engaging, self deprecating and sincere in his appreciation. Please see the pictures below.

PFK/Airplane Room Grand Opening and Dedication Delayed

Last updated 1 year ago

Dear Indy PFK,

The design centerpiece of our room at PMCH, the DC-6 coming out of the North wall, will not be completed by September 8th. Please know, however, that the St. Vincent Foundation and hospital staff are working very hard to meet my expectations of that wall (and every other design element of the room). Please accept my apology for this schedule change and the inconvenience that it may cause. Given the circumstances I am convinced that delaying the opening until the room is completely finished is the right thing to do. I'll be sure to let you know of the new Grand Opening and Dedication as far in advance of the new date as possible. Please take a look at some of the progress (pics below) that has been made so far.


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