LINDEN (WJRT) -
(06/17/14) - A new road race is about to take flight, right off the tarmac of Linden's Price Airport.
"It's pretty unique. It's at an airport. Airplanes around, night time, runway lights," said Cody Welch, Wings of Mercy president.
Saturday night's first ever Wings of Mercy Runway 5K, along with the afternoon's Wings and Wheels event, will feature a classic car show and just about anything that defies gravity.
"Airplane rides, a lot of airplanes just hanging out, pancake breakfast, kids activities. It's a thrilling aviation day here in Linden," Welch said.
The entire day is a benefit for Wings of Mercy East, an organization that flies patients to hospitals for advanced medical treatment.
"We level the playing field. We give people a ride when they have no other way of getting to places like Boston or Mayo Clinic or St. Jude's," Welch said.
Wings of Mercy has operated out of Linden for 18 years.
"Every other day. We do 150 missions a year. Some years, we're pushing 200 and it's all about need," Welch said.
Proceeds from Saturday night's race will help cover the fuel costs of these medical flights. Each round trip mission can cost around $1,500.
"We're all volunteers. Nobody gets paid. Our pilots don't want any accolades or recognition. They just want to fly patients quietly. It's the best spirit of volunteerism I've ever been a part of," Welch said.
As the program continues to grow, so do the number of volunteers. Wings of Mercy now has more than 20 pilots on board.
"To get to do something you love, like flying airplanes, while helping somebody, that's a killer combo," Welch said.
To register for Saturday's "Wings of Mercy Runway 5k," click HERE.