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Patriotic Article
Noble Efforts

By USMC LCpl. Lisa M. Tourtelot

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(October 10, 2010)

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MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (MCN - 10/7/2010) — Thunder lit up the sky and rain poured down all morning, but nothing could dampen the mood of Make-A-Wish Day participants at the flight line here Sept. 30.
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show Make-A-Wish Day organizers invited local Make-A-Wish beneficiaries, special needs and terminally ill children, as well as their families to enjoy a private air show and meet-and-greet with the Blue Angels and Canadian Snowbirds pilots.

Active duty families with special needs children who receive treatment at the Naval Medical Center San Diego, the “Balboa Kids,” also participated in the day's festivities.

The Armed Services YMCA, which operates out of NMC San Diego and organizes Balboa Kids events, joined forces with Make-A-Wish to bring children and families together for the air show.

Grinning children and their families were shuttled into a large, relatively dry tent on
 MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.-Anthony and Izeah Ashley, local San Diegans, meet U.S. Navy Lt. Rob Kurrle, Flying Blue Angels No. 3, at Make-A-Wish Day here Sept. 30, 2010. Participants watched the Blue Angels and the Snowbirds practice their air show routines and then met the pilots for autographs and pictures.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.-Anthony and Izeah Ashley, local San Diegans, meet U.S. Navy Lt. Rob Kurrle, Flying Blue Angels No. 3, at Make-A-Wish Day here Sept. 30, 2010. Participants watched the Blue Angels and the Snowbirds practice their air show routines and then met the pilots for autographs and pictures.
the flight line to get a center stage view of the Blue Angels and Snowbirds practicing their air show routines.
Participants enjoyed a large buffet of pizza and pasta while watching the show and painting each other's faces at the arts and crafts table.

Following the demonstrations, the Blue Angels and the Snowbirds joined event participants for autographs and pictures.

“It's a time to be together, not at the hospital, doing something fun,” said Suzanne Albert, director of program services for Make-A-Wish.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.-Gavin, Diego and Gael Olmedo pose with Capt. Ben Blanton, a Blue Angels Fat Albert pilot, at Make-A-Wish Day here Sept. 30, 2010.
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.-Gavin, Diego and Gael Olmedo pose with Capt. Ben Blanton, a Blue Angels Fat Albert pilot, at Make-A-Wish Day here Sept. 30, 2010.
 The Make-A-Wish event, held one day before the start of the air show, allowed the participants to enjoy the show without the hectic crowds and traffic.

“A lot of these families wouldn't bring their kids to the public air show,” Albert explained. The closed venue meant the families could enjoy an air show without the crowds that can be stressful for special needs children.

“This is a great morale boost for the kids,” said Alysha Dugo, associate program director for the Armed Services YMCA at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

“It's great, it's awesome. Finally some VIP treatment,” said Staff Sgt. David L. Gnann, an armory chief with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Gnann's son, Jacob, enjoyed the show from the “back stage” for the first time.

Albert explained that as event organizers, Make-A-Wish and Armed Services YMCA only do part of the work to make days like this happen.

“We as an organization don't do anything. The Marines do everything. Literally all we do is bring the families,” said Albert.

“You guys [Marine Corps Air Station Miramar] reached out to us,” added Dugo.
Station Marines invited both organizations and arranged both the buffet and the social time with the Snowbirds and Blue Angels.

The bright mood of the Make-A-Wish Day participants lit up the flight line and provided a positive start to the Miramar Air Show.
Article and photos by LCpl. Lisa M. Tourtelot
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar
Copyright 2010

Reprinted from Marine Corps News

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