Clouds Lift For 'Cadet For A Day'
(April 24, 2009)
for a Day Joe
Hayford sits in the
cockpit of one of the U.S. Air Force Academy gliders during a
visit to the Academy organized by the Make-A-Wish foundation.
||4/20/2009 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.
For eight years, Academy
cadets have been making wishes come true for ill youngsters.
They made it happen again April 9 through Saturday when Joe
Hayford, 13, became the newest Cadet for a Day through the
"His eyes were huge, and he never quit smiling," said Wish
volunteer Maggie Appenzeller.
Accompanying Joe was his family--brother, Shane, 17, and
parents, Chong Mi and Keith for the three-day event sponsored by
Cadet Squadron -4.
Wish volunteer Peggy Nightingale said the schedule and content
are kept secret from Cadets for a Day until events are
"We try to keep everything a surprise," she said.|
The family kicked off events with breakfast in the air
traffic control tower observation deck before tours of the tower, gliders
Then it was off to the Aero Club for a complimentary flight. Maybe.
With the cloud ceiling at a mere 700 feet, the flight appeared all but off.
Firefighters with the Academy Fire Station 3 next door to the Aero Club
stepped up and treated Joe to an in-depth tour of an engine and the
Then the clouds literally parted on command, and Joe and Shane took off.
"All I had to do was control the plane," Joe said modestly.
It was the third Wish flight for pilot Wayne Morse, a.k.a. "Santa" for his
"I have kids of my own," he said. "I'm a sucker, and it gives the kids some
joy in their life."
Ironically, it was April 10, exactly one year earlier,
that Joe received a diagnosis of leukemia.
After the brief flight, Joe and his brother got a taste
of the cadets' 32 hours of ground training before parachuting as they
hitched up on training harnesses.
"It's like a really good swing," Joe said.
Later events included hanging out with his new squad mates, leading noon
meal formation, lunch on the staff tower, tour of the chapel and visit to
simulators. The 10th Security Forces working dogs Rocky and Kelly bared
their pearly whites during a demonstration of their patrol skills.
|Cadet for a Day Joe Hayford leads cadet squadron 4 at the noon meal formation at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Cadet Hayford's three-day visit included numerous events sponsored by the cadet squadron, and organized by the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Before heading home, the family visited the falcon mews. |
For Cadet 3rd Class Krystal Sweitzer, working with the foundation is a
"I absolutely love the Make-A-Wish Foundation," she said. "They gave my best
friend her wish, and I've always wanted to back to it."
Cadet Squadron 4 vied against 22 other squadrons to host the event.
"This is such a great squadron," said Air Officer Commanding Maj. Jill
Whitesell. "This is a unique and rewarding experience for us. We're so
blessed to have Joe today."
It was the first Academy wish visit for volunteer Adrian Walton.
"I'm just blown away," he said of the cadets. "They go the extra nine yards.
I feel very humbled by the whole event."
Mrs. Hayford said her younger son is something of a comedian.
"I was always afraid he would turn into the class clown," she said of Joe
who enjoys movies, music, video games, skateboarding and especially
sleepovers with friends.
She was pleased both boys seemed to relish all the events.
"This is a wonderful, wonderful trip," she said.
Mr. Hayford reflected on the weekend after the family's arrival home in
"Joe had an amazing time," he said, and added the family's official wish
from the Foundation was a trip to Hawaii. "We came away from the Academy
with more fun. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The weekend for Cadet 1st Class Christie Wise was wistful. She has served as
a Cadet in Charge for the
Make-A-Wish events for three years. She heads off to pilot training
"I'm sad, and I will definitely miss it," she said. "It's one of the best
programs at the Academy. It makes a difference in children's lives, and we
cadets have a great time."
Article by Ann Patton
Photos by Mike Kaplan
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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