Today, Miracle Flights is a national charity that provides thousands of commercial flights each year to families around the country. But that wasn’t how it began. Originally called Angel Plane, we started out flying regionally on private charters. Over the years, we became an engaged member of the Las Vegas community, staging a series of popular air shows to raise funds as we grew our network of pilots, started flying coast to coast and helped an ever-increasing number of children in need of specialty care that was only available far from home.
In 1996 we became Miracle Flights for Kids and began to earn national recognition for our work, including President George H.W. Bush’s Daily Points of Light Award in 2001.
By 2005, we were coordinating hundreds of flights every month. We began flying our families exclusively on commercial airlines – where flights were more economical and convenient for our flyers. Demand continued to increase, and in 2010 we coordinated our 50,000th flight.
In 2013, we received a one-time financial gift so large that it changed the dynamics of our organization. The money – more than $40 million – came from a class action lawsuit completely unrelated to our operation (filed against two airlines over fuel surcharges). The judge ordered that all unclaimed money in the settlement go to a worthy charity. He chose Miracle Flights.
Before that, our organization had operated on a shoestring budget, often unsure of how to fund operations for the following year. Those lean times taught us the importance of urgency, accountability and engagement with our donors – attributes that became part of our DNA. In hopes of preserving those characteristics – and ensuring our organization’s future for decades to come – we decided to invest and preserve the principal. The earnings, along with proceeds from our continued fundraising initiatives, would cover the costs of running an even more robust version of Miracle Flights.