Wish StoriesEMT Volunteer Allen Visits the Flight for Life Headquarters
Have you ever met someone who was constantly giving, with not even a thought to ask for anything in return?
That’s Allen, through and through. Those who know him well would describe Allen as a humble, hardworking man. And they’d tell you that he deeply cares for his community, which he shows through his actions.
Born and raised in rural Michigan, Allen grew up loving the outdoors. In high school, he and his two brothers would help at his family’s logging business after school, which turned into a lifelong career. It was demanding, physical work that was tough on his body.
When their father faced health challenges, Allen and his twin brother decided to take a CPR course in precaution. It also led them to take an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) class. This experience made Allen realize that the rural area where they lived needed more emergency services. They were so remote that emergency responses were slow or sometimes could not come at all.
Allen decided to change that and became a volunteer EMT and Firefighter, which he would do for the next 30 years. “Back then, there weren’t a lot of people to help with the community,” he said. “I figured I could improve the response times and help people in need.” Volunteering came second nature to Allen, and he also found another way to give back by helping care for dogs at the local animal shelter.
At age 67, Allen is facing a rare form of cancer. As a lifelong logger, firefighter, and EMT volunteer, Allen’s physical strength and connection to his body were a large part of his identity. His condition has also limited his ability to pursue his passions and hobbies in the outdoors.
While receiving treatment at Froedtert Hospital, Allen spent many hours looking out the window from his hospital bed. He often found himself watching the Flight for Life team.
“My room happened to be adjacent to the Helipad,” he explained. “That was my entertainment—watching the helicopters come in and take off.”
He became fascinated by the pilots and was in awe of their dedication. “It was 24 hours a day,” he explained. With his firsthand experience in EMS, Allen found himself so curious about advances in technology and the stories these helicopter pilots must have to share.
“It would be so cool to visit with these folks,” he said once to Dora, his wife of 38 years.
Little did he know, Dora had taken his comment to heart. When she shared Allen’s story with Wish of a Lifetime, we were honored to help grant Allen’s wish and recognize his years of volunteering and giving to others.
Finally, the day of Allen’s wish had arrived! Allen and Dora traveled to Waukesha, WI, to the Flight For Life Headquarters, with transportation provided by Kathy’s House, a hospital guest house providing lodging and caring support for families traveling to Milwaukee for medical care.
When they reached the air base, the helicopter crew and air medics greeted them warmly. Right away, they were impressed by the size of the hangar, which is home to several aircraft, a state-of-the-art flight Communications Center, aviation offices, and pilot quarters.
They received a VIP tour of the hanger from crew members eager to answer Allen’s questions about their missions, satellite communication, and access to weather and mapping data. Allen had a front-row seat in the Communications Center, closely inspected the helicopters from inside and outside, and watched a helicopter pilot take off and land.
“It was a real experience to see what has transitioned in the 30 years since I started—technology, equipment, communication,” he explained. “To go into the facility to see modern technology and their ability to respond quickly was quite remarkable.”
Dora commented that she loved seeing Allen’s excitement and enthusiasm during his wish experience: “He forgot all of his illnesses,” she said.
Most of all, Allen loved hearing the stories of the crew and pilots. They reminded him of his motivations when he became an EMT many years ago. He thanked them for their vital work and for making a difference in people’s lives.
“This opportunity gave me a chance to reflect on what I used to do and take pride in knowing there are folks out there still doing this and making sacrifices,” he said. “I was glad to see these young folks’ dedication hasn’t gone away.”
Dora commented how Allen’s wish was meaningful to him on many levels. Meeting EMS professionals helped him see his years of volunteering in a new light. And now, he is excited to share his story with his grandchildren, neighbors, and friends back home.
“He would have never done it for himself,” Dora said. “As a firefighter and EMT, he never got the thank you that he deserved—but Allen never thought he deserved anything. He deserved all of it.”