Saturday, September 1, 2012


Cancer brings a multitude of tough choices.  From treatment options to how to adorn your dome, battling cancer can sometimes feel like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books.  And just like those books, you never really know until the end of the story if the decisions you made were "the right" ones - or if you'll get eaten by a dragon.  But you make your best informed decisions and cross your fingers.  One decision I never hesitated about was to get our kids into counseling early to help them navigate the challenges our family is going through.

Soon after I was diagnosed, I was given the name of Joe McCarron who developed and runs Special Opportunities Affirm Recognition in Noteworthy Goals or S.O.A.R.I.N.G in Coeur d' Alene (  McCarron is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and former Air Force flight crew member who started the non-profit volunteer organization 15 years ago as a way to help youth dealing with specific life challenges.  He also happens to be a cancer survivor himself.

The program teaches kids - through individual counseling sessions - about aviation and how to overcome life obstacles.  At the end of the program, the kids have the opportunity to fly a real plane.  There are several divisions, but our kids belong to the SOARING Phoenix group whose parents are dealing with cancer or other severe illness. 

On August 3rd, the SOARING program was being recognized by BUS 52 ( - a group of young people who are traveling around the country for a year (in a bus), searching out positive stories that may not hit main stream media.  At any rate, the timing just happened to coincide with our kids "graduating" from the program - thus earning seats as co-pilots on their very first flights.

Here's a look at the day and the video from the Bus 52 crew.  It was the day after my chemo treatment so I missed out on the celebration, but the kids were nominated as SOARING youth of the month which means they will earn an additional flight in the future so hopefully I can go on that one.  

De Plane, Boss.  From Joe's work to the pilots to the airplanes themselves, all of the resources for SOARING are volunteered.
Butterflies in their stomachs, the kids wait in the hangar with Dad and Grandma.

You would think Suri Cruz was flying today with all the paparazzi.
Both kids earned certificates for their work in the counseling program.
And then the deal was sealed with the all important "secret handshake".
They would teach it to you - but then they'd have to kill you.
So proud of them!!

Looking a little nervous - heading out to the plane.

"I got this, Dad!"

The kids help perform all the "checks" with the pilot, Mike.

Teague adds his seal of approval.
Grandma and Maddie watch Teague's flight as Joe looks on.
Your turn, Maddie!
She looks good as a pilot!
Teague and Chris watch and wave.
Good job, guys!  We are so proud of you.

All photos courtesy Woody Wright