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Wing delivers a great day to Phoenix Children's Hospital

  • Published
  • By Capt. Dan Dodson
  • 162nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
When more is asked, more is given. That has always been a mantra of the 162nd Fighter Wing, and it was never more apparent than when members were asked to donate gifts to Phoenix Children's Hospital during the recent holiday season. 

"More" was given as unit members collected over 250 gifts for the hospital during November and December 2008. 

In addition to the gift drive, members were also donating to a food drive, adopting multiple families for the holidays, and donating to their favorite charity organizations through the Combined Federal Campaign. So when it took more than three vehicles to deliver thousands of dollars worth of toys, games, books and DVDs, the 162nd had gone above and beyond. 

"I am amazed at all these gifts," said Child Life Specialist Kari Green. Along with honorary wing member and Phoenix Children's Hospital patient Dominic Magne, she guided a handful of members through the hospital to personally deliver the gifts Dec. 11, 2008. 

The first stop of the day was at the outpatient clinic where many young cancer and blood disorder patients go for their periodic dose of life-saving treatment. 

Unit members quickly built rapport with the children and their families while delivering their own dose of care. "It's great you guys are here. The kids love it when they see someone outside of the normal people," said Ms. Green. 

Following the stop at the outpatient clinic, unit members proceeded to the main hospital. They went floor by floor, from playroom to playroom to ensure each child got a turn to pick out a gift. 

There were enough toys for everyone that day, but also enough to store away for future patients ensuring that the wing's efforts will continue to assist hospital staff with boosting morale among their patients. 

"You brought a lot of smiles to a lot of kids today. Thank you," said Green. 

"All of this was possible because of an amazing friendship between Lt. Col. Scott Reinhold, the people of the 162nd, and 7-year-old Dominic," said Col. Jose Salinas, wing vice commander. "Dominic is our guy... he's one of us, and we take care of our people." 

More than a year-and-a-half ago, the 162nd, in partnership with the nonprofit agency Dream Factory, made Dominic's dream to be a fighter pilot come true. 

Similar visits to other military bases through Dream Factory, or agencies such as Make-A-Wish Foundation, are typically one-and-done scenarios. It's a well-known story; a very sick child gets a once-in-a-lifetime experience, child leaves happy, end of story. It is an exceptional experience for that child, but it's just for a day. 

When approached to host Dominic in April, 2007, Colonel Salinas knew he wanted a different story, not just an exceptional one-day experience. 

"I knew if we were going to do this, we had to see this through from start to finish. I did not want this to be a one-day thing," said the colonel. "When I asked for a pilot to volunteer, I wanted someone who had the time to follow up with this little guy, and Rhino raised his hand." 

Nearly two years later, Colonel Reinhold is still a constant presence in Dominic's life through letters, emails and trips to the zoo. 

"Scott is an amazing person," said Dominic's grandmother Susan Magne, eyes welling up with tears. 

"Scott is obviously the perfect person for Dominic. I am very impressed with all that he has done, and I'm proud of our wing for being so generous in helping to make this a very special day," said Colonel Salinas.