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God answers a mother's prayers via a mercy flight
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God answers a mother's prayers via a mercy flight
By Ellis W. Stewart

PLANO, Texas--"It couldn't have worked out more wonderfully if I had tried any other way," said Jean McConnell, describing her ailing son's trip from Long Beach, Calif., to Dallas, Texas.

Four years ago Mrs. McConnell decided her grown son Victor Hawkins, whose health had deteriorated over the years, needed to live near her in Texas so she and other family members and friends could visit and check on him frequently.

She began looking and praying for a way to move Victor, now 53, back to Dallas, where he is originally from.

Mr. Hawkins grew up in the Worldwide Church of God in the Dallas area, having been baptized in 1979. He has had a lifelong problem with poor vision, preventing him from driving a car, and other health-related problems.

Worked for IRS

While attending college at North Texas State in Denton in the 1970s, the federal government recruited him to work for the Internal Revenue Service in the Los Angeles, Calif., area, with assistance from a government program to hire blind and other disabled people.

He attended WCG Sabbath services in Pasadena from the late 1970s through the middle of the '90s.

In the late 1980s Mr. Hawkins had been diagnosed with diabetes.


In 2000 he moved south to Long Beach to share an apartment with a friend for a while.

About that time he found himself in the middle of a job dispute with his boss, the IRS, and wound up losing his job. However, later the government compensated him for his firing, which involved his taking time off for the Feast.

During his mother's yearly visit in 2000, she and Mr. Hawkins' sister Theresa McConnell, who lives in Monterey, Calif., moved him into an "assisted-living" residence, a long-term-care facility for the elderly or disabled who can get around on their own but who may need help with daily routines such as taking medicine.

Mr. Hawkins also has a sister who lives in the Dallas area, Audrey Andrews. "Her daughter, Ashley, is Victor's pride and joy," said Mrs. McConnell.

In 2003 Mr. Hawkins' diabetic condition had worsened, and surgeons amputated his left leg below the knee.

In 2003 Mr. Hawkins also suffered heart and kidney problems.

Also in 2003 he moved from the assisted-living facility into a nursing home in Long Beach.

Call Mercy Med-Flight

Mrs. McConnell and members of the United Church of God in Dallas, where she attends, and other friends prayed for Victor and for a way to move him back to Dallas.

"A friend asked if I would call Angel Flight and see if they might be able to help," she said.

Angel Flight is a charity that provides air transportation for medical patients. Angel Flight personnel told her that for various reasons Mr. Hawkins did not qualify for their help, but they suggested she call Mercy Med-Flight, which she did.

Mercy Med-Flight, another nonprofit, based in Fort Worth, Texas, evaluated Mr. Hawkins' situation as "desperate" and therefore qualifying for their assistance.

Mercy Med-Flight put Mr. Hawkins' name on a waiting list. Mrs. McConnell was under the impression that it might be six months before the organization could fly him from California to Texas. As it turned out, it took only three months.

Many people helped

June 29 was a special day in Mrs. McConnell's life. She received a call from Kenneth McAlear of Mercy Med-Flight notifying her that his company could fly Mr. Hawkins to Texas in three weeks.

Mrs. McConnell called nursing homes in Dallas to find a place for her son to live and to arrange transportation for him from the airport to one of the homes.

From an airport in Fort Worth, Mercy Med-Flight personnel took off for Southern California. Along for the journey were medical staffers including a doctor and nurse.

The Long Beach nursing home provided a ground ambulance to drive Mr. Hawkins to the airport in the Long Beach area, from where the Mercy Med-Flight crew and Mr. Hawkins winged their way back to Texas.

A ground ambulance from Care First EMS of Cedar Hill waiting at Addison Airport picked him up and took him to The Village at Richardson, a nursing home in another Dallas suburb, thanks to Care First's operations manager, Keith Powell, said Mrs. McConnell.

"This was all done as a charitable service," she said. "I could never begin to afford all this. It would have cost thousands of dollars. I don't know how to thank God enough for these wonderful, serving people. I pray God blesses them for their kindness."

Waiting for the next call

In a letter to Mrs. McConnell dated July 14, Col. Kenneth E. McAlear, U.S. Air Force retired, the president and CEO of Mercy Med-Flight, wrote:

"We flew three other patients in June in addition to Victor but will be able to do just two more this month because of limited funding. We are down to just 38 patients on the waiting list--until the next call comes in."

Col. McAlear said he is "hopeful that the funding will continue to come in so that we can eventually get to all of those in need.

"Some patients and their families have been waiting for over six months. Please pray for the resources that will allow us to do that."

Mrs. McConnell said she wants to share her and her son's story in hopes of inspiring others to look to God for help, and maybe God will bless others through Mercy Med-Flight as well.

Even though the trip from California was difficult at times for Mr. Hawkins, he says it was "handled with loving care" and thinks Mercy Med-Flight was "God-sent."

Mrs. McConnell said the nursing staff at The Village in Richardson wants to fit him for a prosthetic leg and try to get him up and walking again as his health permits.

"We appreciate prayers" for that effort, she said.

Write Victor Hawkins at 1111 Rockingham Ln., Richardson, Texas 75080, U.S.A.

To donate to, or for other information about, Mercy Med-Flight, write 200 Texas Way, Hangar 23N, Fort Worth, Texas 76106, U.S.A., or visit

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