Student Pilots Help Hospitalized Children

K-State Salina’s student-led chapter of Pilots For Kids, an international nonprofit organization, brought joy and gifts to hospitalized youth in Wichita.

According to the school, the students recently traveled to Wesley Medical Center to visit more than 40 hospitalized children, ranging from infants to teenagers. They brought gift bags that included toys and special K-State Salina pilot shirts for the kids.

The K-State Salina Pilots For Kids chapter collected more than $2,000 in donations to provide gifts to the children in this project.

“Whenever you begin to use your passion in the service of other people, then it becomes a purpose,” said Jack Byrne, senior in professional pilot, Wichita, and lead organizer of the effort. “This is a really incredible way for our students to not just develop the academic skills of becoming a pilot, which is what a lot of them are here for, but to go outside into the community and use that passion for the good of others.”

K-State Salina’s Professional Pilot Living Learning Community, which consists of 25 students in the professional pilot program, have all become members of Pilots For Kids to help bring joy to hospitalized children and share their passion for aviation with them. The Pilots For Kids operation is dedicated to helping hospitalized children by visiting the youth in hospitals and bringing toys and other needed items to each child. The organization includes major, national and regional airline crewmembers; corporate, military and private pilots; and aviation enthusiasts.

“Through this program, students are learning the process of making the project come to fruition, where they’re learning about getting transportation solidified and working on things like budgets to be able to buy the kids all the amazing things that we want to support them with,” said Alyssa Wendel, director of K-State Salina student affairs. “Our students are learning to see the whole process come to life from start to finish.”

K-State Salina plans to continue its Pilots For Kids program in the coming months. Planning and fundraising processes have already begun for a future visit. Visit the Pilots For Kids website to learn more and to donate.