by Airman Ashley Williams
121st Air Refueling Wing
7/13/2015 - RICKENBACKER AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio -- Airmen
with the 121st Air Refueling Wing hosted Madalyn Charles, a 13-year-old
from London, Ohio, as Pilot for a Day June 18, 2015.
"Today was our third Pilot for a Day event," said Capt. Cassandra
Seward, the executive officer with the 121st ARW. "When Capt. Wonn and I
decided to try it at our base, I had no idea how great this experience
would be for the honorary pilot, the wing members or for me. It has
truly been one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences in my
Charles was diagnosed with Tricuspid Atresia, a form of congenital heart
disease where the tricuspid valve is missing, causing the right
ventricle in the heart to be underdeveloped.
"Many people take their lives and health for granted," said Seward.
"Being able to serve in the Air National Guard is an honor and a
privilege that many children like Madalyn will never have."
Charles spent the day at Rickenbacker, experiencing what it would to be like in the various squadrons here.
"This has been amazing," said Barbara Charles, mother of Madalyn. "The
military is not something that she's able to do in her future, so for
her to be able to experience those opportunities for a day has been
Activities included taking a tour of the KC-135 Stratotanker,
marshalling an aircraft, taking a tour of the fire department which
included a ride on the fire truck, learning about emergency management
and interacting with security forces personnel.
"I have been so blessed to be able to spend one day with each of them,"
said Seward. "I hope we are able to carry on this partnership with
Nationwide Children's Hospital and the community for years to come. It
is so amazing to see how this unit comes together to support this