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Hospice patient granted plane ride as bucket list wish

Mansfield News Journal logo Mansfield News Journal 9/22/2020 Lou Whitmire, Mansfield News Journal
Betty Wheeler, 92, of Lexington, took a plane ride Monday to fulfill a bucket list wish. The plane ride was organized by SouthernCare Hospice of Mansfield. © Submitted photo Betty Wheeler, 92, of Lexington, took a plane ride Monday to fulfill a bucket list wish. The plane ride was organized by SouthernCare Hospice of Mansfield.

MANSFIELD - Betty Wheeler said she was ready to take another plane ride someday after she flew from Mansfield Lahm Airport to Bellville and back Monday afternoon.

Wheeler, 92, of near Lexington, pilot Darren Hamilton and chaplain Dan Clouse enjoyed sunny skies on a brisk fall day as Wheeler fulfilled one of her bucket list wishes by taking a plane ride with Hamilton. Afterward she received a certificate for her first plane ride.

Emily Christy, who is the clinical liaison with SouthernCare Hospice in Mansfield, said the wish program is called the "Dream Keeper Program."

Wheeler told hospice aide Marti Hardin, "I drove the plane!" when she got on the tarmac behind the Subway restaurant at the airport.

Wheeler said everyone told her "Good job Betty" while they were in the air.

a group of people standing around a plane: Pilot Darren Hamilton, at left, gives Betty Wheeler a certificate for her first flight Monday. With them is Marti Hardin, hospice aide, and chaplain Dan Crouse. Betty completed a bucket list wish with the flight. © Lou Whitmire/News Journal Pilot Darren Hamilton, at left, gives Betty Wheeler a certificate for her first flight Monday. With them is Marti Hardin, hospice aide, and chaplain Dan Crouse. Betty completed a bucket list wish with the flight.

Two of Wheeler's four sons — Bob Wheeler and Charles Wheeler and his wife Cheryl — came to celebrate the event with the SouthernCare team members.

Betty had never flown in a small plane but had in past years had flown twice to Texas on commercial airlines.

Hamilton, a member of the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard and a commercial pilot, donated his time and his plane and Richland Aviation donated the fuel.

Wheeler's sons said their mother was born in Akron but lived most of her life in the Bellville area.

Betty, a big fan of aviation, was giving the crowd a thumb's up and waving as the plane was headed toward the runaway.

"She was not nervous. Just excited," son Bob said.

Betty will be 93 in March, her family said. She was active volunteering for years at Friendly House and she is known for her musical talents, playing a mouth harp and a harmonica. The fun-loving woman is also a big fan of old-fashioned gospel music.

The flight was planned roughly about a month ago and Betty was excited for the big day, staff said.

"Fly, fly, fly!" she said waving her arms with joy as she walked away from the plane before grabbing her walker and heading back to the car.

"I would like to do this again!" she said as the crowd smiled.

lwhitmir@gannett.com

419-5217223

Twitter: @LWhitmir

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Hospice patient granted plane ride as bucket list wish

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