On any given day, there’s a good chance you’ll find Lake Cable Founder Bill Runzel flying employees to our plants, picking up customers in other cities or taking off toward an industry trade show.
In addition to making wire, Bill’s a seasoned Instrument Rated pilot who has logged over 3,000 hours of flight time dating back to college. When it comes down to it, he finds flying to be the most effective way to get from point A to point B in one day.
But sometimes Bill goes to some very special destinations that aren’t in that usual flight path. Like when a combat veteran is severely wounded and needs help making a connection they’ve been waiting for in what feels like a lifetime.
How does the journey begin?
A place that’s nowhere near Bensenville, actually.
Imagine you’re an Army Green Beret serving in a place like Iraq. You’re serving your third tour of duty when you’re involved in a roadside blast. Within the next 9 days, you’re in another blast. You feel so lucky to be alive given the circumstances. Until you begin to experience ringing in your ears and headaches. Balance becomes an issue. When you return home, your injuries are so severe that you’re placed in a long-term hospital facility – one that’s hundreds of miles away from your family.
Even when you’re finally “home,” you’re still separated from the ones you love.
Fortunately, that distance doesn’t have to be a challenge, as Bill volunteers his time as a pilot with Veterans Airlift Command. Through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots, Veterans Airlift Command provides free air transportation to post-9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes.
Lifting spirits upon landing
The above story is no hypothetical situation. It’s what happened to Army Green Beret Maj. Darren Baldwin. While Darren’s initial diagnosis from his injuries was MS, a brain scan uncovered more than 26 lesions on his brain. In addition to his traumatic brain injuries, he has Lyme’s Disease.
But Darren is not going through recovery alone. His ever-supportive Army wife, Bianca, has stayed close to him during his recovery as his primary care giver. As Darren approached his 38th birthday, he expressed how much it would mean to have his mother and her husband with him then.
So Bill made sure he had all the additional family support around him he deserved.
In coordinating with Veterans Airlift Command, Bill piloted the wounded warrior’s mother and her husband from Cincinnati to Fayetteville, North Carolina so that they could celebrate Darren’s birthday with him and his wife.
Because going the extra mile for our military veterans isn’t just about words. It’s about delivering the things that really matter in life.