Seeing a person you love suffering, unable to hold them can be heart-wrenching. That is what Lynn Omohundro felt when her granddaughter, Kara, suffered from severe burns, calling for her to touch her but can’t do anything. In this episode, Lynn shares their flight journey for the first time and how grateful she is to Angel Flight for the support they provided. Over the years, Angel Flight has been a lifeline, flying Kara and her to and from Cincinnati for checkups. Lynn's gratitude is palpable as she describes the profound impact this organization has had on their lives. Through tears and laughter, she emphasizes the unwavering support they have received, the countless kind-hearted pilots they've met, and the joy Kara finds in her sports activities. Tune in to this beautiful tale that shows the love of a grandmother to her granddaughter and the incredible work of Angel Flight.
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In this episode, we have a grandmom of a passenger. We have Lynn joining us. Lynn, are you able to tell us a little bit about your granddaughter, Kara, and the journey she's going through?
Years ago, she got burnt badly. She pulled a cord on a crockpot and got burnt 60% of her face, body, and everything. Shriners eventually came and got her and took her to Cincinnati. After that, Angel Flight has been kind enough to fly her back and forth for all her checkups. We're very blessed by the whole Angel Flight organization. It has been awesome. There was one particular flight I remember where the pilots took her one morning, and then I went to work. I worked a full day. I went back to the airport, there she was back. She had been to Cincinnati. She had her checkup all in one day. Angel Flight is wonderful. I can't say enough nice things about it.
At this point, the Shriners have decided that she's doing great and the scars she has on her left shoulder. All her friends know. It's nothing unusual for anybody to see her scars. She's playing sports like crazy. She's loving softball, basketball, and volleyball. Football is her fourth sport. She’s doing awesome, and it's thanks to Angel Flight and all the trips where they've made it possible for Kara and her escort, whether it's her mom, her dad, or whomever, to get her back and forth from here in Charlottesville, Virginia to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the hospital is. We're very blessed.
If you saw a picture of Kara, you would never know what she had gone through as such a little girl. She looks perfect. You would never know she had dumped crockpot contents and burned 60% of her body. It's pretty remarkable how she looks now.
When she first got burnt, the entire left side of her face was mulberry-colored. She had to wear compression garments. She would scream when you put the compression garments on her. Now, she's this vivacious girl who's extremely active in sports. It's awesome. You would never know for sure.
Lynn, do you know how many flights you have taken with Angel Flight? By you, I mean you guys collectively.
No, I don't. It’s been a lot. I've never kept a record. Different people went depending on who was available. The initial time, they came back commercial, but it's been a lot of flights. We've met a lot of nice people, nice pilots, and spouses of pilots. Also, the pets of pilots. It's been wonderful. Each pilot grouping has been different, and it's been awesome how many wonderful people. It has been a lot of trips. I just don't remember exactly how many over the years.
I looked it up, and it looks like we are about twenty flights.
That's hard to believe. I guess so. One of our local car dealers was our pilot, which was cool. I don't remember if he was the one that took care of us to Ohio or if he was the guy that bought her back. It was nice to have somebody local for an Angel Flight pilot. Whenever people talk about going away for doctor's visits, I'm like, “Do you know about Angel Flight?” If somebody says something about somebody flying, I'm like, “Have you considered being a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight?” I can't help but throw that out there whenever the subject lends itself.
We always say you are our biggest fan, Lynn, especially on social media. The more people that know about us, the better.
You took the words out of my mouth there, Jess.
That's hilarious. I love the Angel Flight. For those people that don't know, we've never had to pay a penny. We've been so blessed. It would've taken Larissa forever to constantly be making those trips. As a single mom, it would've cost her a fortune that she couldn't afford. I can't say enough good things about Angel Flight. I would love to figure out what the magic solution is for getting the word out because I am a big fan of Angel Flight for sure. We've been much honored to be a part. When I think back, I can remember how we got hooked up with the Shriners, but I couldn't begin to tell you how Angel Flight came into our life. God knows you guys have been a blessing for sure.
That's so exciting. I feel like we're always looking for the, “How did you find us so that way we can keep growing that and whatever worked?” but everybody's like, “I don't know, you're just here.”
I'll have to ask Kara's mom, Larissa, my daughter, she might remember. I know we heard about Shriners because Larissa’s aunt’s husband had gotten burnt extremely badly. They kept pressed sure enough in the very beginning. “Let the Shriners come to get her, and let them take her to Ohio. They can do this.” Since I'm such a homebody, it took me a while to finally say, “Call the Shriners back, come and get her.” I've racked my brains trying to remember who turned us on the Angel Flight, but I'm very thankful to whoever it was because we have been very fortunate to have known about Angel Flight.
"We have been very fortunate to have known about Angel Flight."
Do you happen to have a favorite flight that you took with us, or if Kara had a favorite flight?
A favorite plane. Rumor has it one of the airplanes had its parachute for the plane itself. I can't tell you a whole lot about that. All I know as a grandmother who has never flown in her life, that to me was the perfect airplane. I don't remember who it was. I can't verify and vouch, but that was the rumor that one of the planes had a parachute for the plane itself. I thought, “If only every plane could be this plane.”
I'm sure all of the Cirrus pilots are like, “That's me. That's my plane.”
I was blown away. I had no idea such a thing existed. I’m somebody who's never flown a day in her life, and Kara teases me about it. She's like, “Mimi, you’ll love it. There's nothing to it.” That was my favorite plane, for sure.
They are pretty nice. They are so high-tech, and it feels like a video game sometimes when you're sitting in a Cirrus.
As somebody who is not a big flyer, can you tell us what it's like to fly in a small plane?
I know nothing at all. As the grandmother schlepping them to and from the airport, everybody on the general aviation side of things was wonderful and all the pilots and stuff. It was very teary for me to stand in the general aviation waiting room window and watch them fly off. It's touching and heartbreaking. Towards the end, the girls are like, “Mimi, drop us off on the sidewalk. We got this.” It was an old hat to them, but I know nothing. I just know that it's been a wonderful experience for us. Each and every one of the different pilot groupings was so fabulous, and bought something new and different to the plate every time. We met a lot of fabulous people as a result.
How would you say Angel Flight has affected your family?
It’s such a blessing. If Kara has had twenty flights, I can't even imagine how much that would've cost us in time and money. Being a visual flight was very reassuring because once the initial trip was over and done, it was always just about checkups. It was never like, “This flight has got to happen.” Somebody has got to take any chances. It was nice knowing that they were prepared at a moment's notice to scrub the trip and reschedule at a later date. That always made me feel good because it made me feel safe for Kara and whoever was flying with her.
Does she still receive checkup appointments? I feel like we haven't flown her, maybe in a year-ish.
You haven't flown her in a while. The last time they went, Larissa and Kara said Shriners has done all that they could do for Kara. There are so many other kids out there needing more than what they can offer her that she's pretty much finished at thirteen. I don't anticipate her going any more in the next couple of years. She's over and done with what they can do. Realistically, she's had the scars on her left shoulder for most of her life, and that's all she knows.
She'll be the first to tell you because, for a while there, I pushed the whole potential cosmetic surgery issue because I was afraid she was going to get older and be self-conscious. She’s like, “Mimi, these scars on my left shoulder prove I'm a tough chick.” She's got the right attitude. I need to quit stressing out about her worrying because scars are only in that one area of her body. She's got the best attitude. If I could make her wear more sunscreen, then I would be good, but it is what it is.
Everybody struggles with wearing more sunscreen, but I would like to bottle that little personality and sell it. You probably saw that better than you could most face creams.
When she was little and she first got there, they were like, “This kid's tough. Had she not been so ferocious and tough, she never would've lived through what she went through.” I'm grateful that she was such a badass little kid because it kept her alive. She got burnt badly. When we were at the hospital when it first happened, they had her in a crib with glass walls. They wouldn't let me touch her because she was burnt. They were scared I would cause her to have infections. She's in this crib, and she's like, “Mimi, pick me up and hold me tight.” I wasn't allowed to touch her, and that was hard. Thanks to you, guys. It's so much better. She's rocking.
We love Kara.
I love her too.
When did we meet? I came down to Virginia a few years ago, and you were doing a fundraiser for us.
There was a paper airplane thing at the Wigan shopping center that somebody was doing that was supposedly the first annual. It was in memory of somebody's father that was a pilot perhaps. It's been a while.
It was so fun, but Kara was so rambunctious that day.
She's still rambunctious. Now, her clock is different because she's a teenager so she stays up all night and sleeps all day. She's a little vampire.
I miss those days. Now, we go to bed at 9:00 PM and are up at 6:00 AM.
I went to bed at 5:00 one day. I was thrilled. I feel you.
What was it like getting to treatment? Did you guys have to go to Shriners ever without us?
I don't think they did because what happened, the first trip when she went to Shriners, the three Shriners people showed up and flew her there in MetaFlight. That's the first time even Larissa has been in a rescue squad. The Shriners came and got her and flew her to Cincinnati, and then they kept her for three weeks. I don't remember how long because this has been a few years back.
Larissa and Kara flew back commercially through LaGuardia and all that. After that, everything else has always been Angel Flight. I don't think there have ever been any other trips that I can remember. They've always flown to and from because you guys could get them there so quickly, and every other method was so slow. Everything since the initial time was an Angel Flight visit.
I can't imagine driving that distance when you have your child who's so badly burned. It seems a very uncomfortable way to go.
For sure. For Larissa coming back and that being her first commercial flight alone and she's got this little kid and the kids too, and she's all bundled up in all these compression garments, I'm sure it was probably the flight from where but they made it. All these years later, we're doing marvelous.
I love to hear that. I always get so excited when we get your card every year with Kara’s school picture and her update on what she is doing. I can't believe how old she looks.
She's tall so I fear that we probably expect too much out of her. Larissa and David are both tall, so she's got those tall genes thing going on. Here's a prime example. She spent some time with her dad's aunt, who she calls her other Mimi, and she packed her softball gear. I'm like, “Kara, I don't see that batting cage thing.” “Mimi, I packed it. I brought it with me to South Carolina.” She's not a girl that's going to pack all these clothes. She's going to take a softball gear.
One time before, she went to spend the night with her girlfriend. Instead of packing a bunch of clothes, she packed a volleyball, a basketball, or something in her backpack. She's so funny. This is not us forcing the sports thing on her. This is Kara. She decided that she was going to embrace all these sports, and she’s rocking it.
If she becomes a big star one day in the sports world, I hope she doesn't forget about us, little people.
She wants to play travel ball. Her mom's like, “Kara, if you're going to do travel ball, you’ve got to wait. I’ve got to buy a brand new car because we're not traveling all over the place in a secondhand car.”
She's going to have to get her pilot's license next.
Basketball is her big love. With the hype thing and all going on, she winds up playing for both teams. That hype is paying off. I do think basketball's her first choice sport but she's embracing the sports, and that's all Kara. That's her choosing to run around the field and all that good stuff, better than me.
I'm always so jealous of people who are naturally athletic and don't have to try and figure it out. I joined the sports teams because it was a cool thing to do when I was growing up. That's what everybody did. That was like social time, and it was not promising.
With Kara, it's the thing of, “I'm going to immerse myself in all the sports possible. I'm not going to give myself a chance to sit around and get bored.” It's mostly her keeping busy with sports. It's been good for her. She's doing great.
What is one final thought you would want to leave our audience with?
If you need to get from here to there, don't stress it. Reach out to Angel Flight, by all means. They'll help you if they can. We've met so many wonderful people. Nobody has asked us for a penny. We haven't gotten kicked off a plane because we accidentally packed a bottle of shampoo. It's easy peasy and wonderful.
For those of you out there who like to fly, volunteer for Angel Flight. It will give you an excuse to fly your plane and you'll be doing good. We’re always doing something good. It does so much more for the person giving than it does the person receiving. It will make your heart feel good. No matter which side of the coin you're on, go for it. Angel Flight is awesome.
Lynn, you are the best. We love you so much. We are always so appreciative of all the support you give back to us.
We love it. You are our number one fan on Facebook. I don’t know if it's something that we have to do to assign you that top fan badge but you need it.
You need a trophy or something.
It's wonderful. Thank you guys for making it happen. This is good.
We appreciate you sharing your story and telling our audience about Kara's story. If you ever need us in the future, you know where to find us.
We know it for sure. Thank you guys for everything.
Tell Kara we said hi.
I will. You all take care. Have a wonderful rest of your day.
You too. Bye, Lynn.
The story that I was going to tell when I mentioned me not being very good at sports.
I had a good chuckle about that because I was about to be like, “I'm the athletic one-ish.”
You're not, but just to give the audience a chuckle and an idea of who they're reading to, growing up, the cool sports to do in my grade school were softball and volleyball. Everybody who played one played both. I went to a Catholic school, so the parents were very involved. I played softball. The umpire was the dad of one of the girls on another team. I was not good at softball, volleyball I was better at, to the point that the umpire’s dad looks at my dad at one of my volleyball games and said, “Thank God, I'm relieved that she can play one sport.”
That's the definition of your athleticism. Maddie has been trying to get us to join a sports league.
Jess' version of us joining a sports league is a kickball team.
If Ryan is reading, he would be very happy. We started a young professionals committee. A guy on it, Ryan, told us about his kickball league and said, “It's more of a social circle.” I said, “What better social activity can we do than playing kickball on Tuesday nights until 9:00 PM?”
I have a lot of things that I could do on a Tuesday, not kickball.
Is that a hard no or a 50% no?
We'll leave it as a soft no. If anybody else is out there and wants to come to Conshohocken and join us for an exciting round of kickball.
You're selling it here.
I can't even say with a straight face. I hope people are watching this on YouTube and not just reading it so they can see my discomfort.
I don't think I was ever good at kickball in school, but maybe in my 30s. It's what I've been missing out on.
The last time I played kickball was at that said grade school. I'm pretty sure I hit the priest with the ball.
I could say a lot, but I am not going to.
That explains how I've made it this far or probably why I made it where I am, depending on how you look at it.
I have so much to say. I can't wait to go offline and roast you. I will not do it publicly.
This is the fun part. My favorite part about our show is that people start to learn that Jess is not innocent.
I'm so nice.
Out of the two of us, I'm the nice one, and you're the blunt one.
That's the difference. You're as mean as I am. I just tell it to your face.
That's scary. Remember people think you're off-putting and they're like, “We thought you were not a nice person and didn't like us.” You talk to people, and you're like, “Wow.” She's still mean but in a nice way.
To reference what Jess is talking about, I tried dating, and that's what I was told.
That is verbatim of what he said. If that doesn't describe us, nothing will.
For more information about flights with Angel Flight, the passengers, how they're enjoying it, how our pilots love what they do, or the disaster, that is my dating life, please join in next time.
I'm sure we'll have a story.
See you next time.