About Children’s Flight of Hope

Our Mission

Children’s Flight of Hope (CFOH) provides air transportation for children in need of specialized medical care who also need financial assistance. For most families, this means we reserve tickets on commercial airlines for the child and one adult companion to travel for treatment. Some families travel once a year, some every three weeks and many have changing needs as a child’s treatment evolves. On limited occasions, our resources allow us to provide private flights for a child who is medically unable to travel on a commercial airline.

Our Partners

Corporate and individual donors make all the difference in this mission to save and enhance lives– we couldn’t do it without them. Through their generous support, we purchase hundreds of commercial plane tickets each year. In addition, we are proud partners with American Airlines and administer their Miles for Our Well-Being program.  Through this program, we provide flights for kids internationally and within the United States to receive critical care at charitable medical institutions, such as Shriners Hospitals for Children. Our mission has reached new heights with the support of American Airlines.

We are also grateful partners with Southwest Airlines, who makes significant contributions to our travel resources. We often refer private flight requests to our friends at AeroAngel and appreciate working in tandem with them for the most medically-fragile children to access treatment nationwide.

Our Commitment

We are committed to helping families through the duration of their child’s treatment. Once a family has been accepted our flight assistance program, we make every effort to see them through their medical journey.

We are motivated by the children we serve and maintain our mission focus with these guiding principles:

  • Compassion
  • Responsiveness
  • Safety
  • Financial Responsibility
  • Transparency
  • Gratitude

Our History

In 1990, pilot and businessman Al Wethington became aware of some local North Carolina children with serious medical needs. They could be treated at distant hospitals but lacked safe and affordable transportation to access this specialty care.  Al used his skills and resources to rally local pilots, medical personnel and community volunteers to address this need. Within months, Children’s Flight of Hope was off the ground.

CFOH was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 1991 and has flown thousands of missions over three decades. Our founders’ vision and service helped CFOH take flight and we have been gaining altitude ever since. Learn about our most recent year’s achievements in our annual report.

Our Team


Pat Nelli
Executive Director
Lori M. Smith, M.Ed.
Sr. Director of Development & Operations
Stephanie Thompson, MS
Director of Mission Delivery

Board of Directors

Jennifer Wade
CFOH Chair
Moe’s Southwest Grill

Rick Gardner
CFOH Immediate Past Chair 
RGA Investments

Deborah Nunn
D&H Support Solutions, Inc.

Daren Baughman
SAS Institute, Inc.
Senior Procurement Analyst

David Byerley
BB&T now Truist
Senior Vice President, Middle Market Banking

Matt Callahan
Callahan Construction & Development Co.
President & CEO

Jeff Causey
Causey Aviation
Chief Operating Officer

Herbert Fuchs, MD
Duke University Medical Center
Head of Pediatric Neurosurgical Services

Debra Perry
Software Executive

Gill Cooper
First Federal Bank
Commercial Relationship Manager

Joe Dillon
SharpVue Capital, LLC

Joe Elphick
3C! Packaging

Rachid Bendali
LORD Corporation
Vice President, Global Aerospace & Defense

Ben Griffith
Naval Aviation Advisor/Technology Sales


Advisory Board

Rob Gooding
Vice President
Accentuate Staffing
Abel Zalcberg
ABCZ Properties, LLC
Robert Sasser
Barringer Sasser LLP

Stories of Hope

The greatest reward for CFOH is hearing the stories of the families weve helped.

They are stories of courage, of compassion, of love, and - most certainly - of hope.



Nathan L.