About Children’s Flight of Hope

Our Mission

Children’s Flight of Hope (CFOH) offers hope and healing to families by providing air transportation to children in need of specialized medical care. 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.

We had our best year ever in 2019! Learn more in our Annual Report.

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 the guiding principles of compassion, responsiveness, safety and 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 for the first several years, operated a private plane to get children to their treatment. CFOH started booking commercial flights to increase our impact in 2012 and passed the milestone of 100 flights in a year in 2013. Our services gained altitude as support from dedicated donors grew and new partnerships were established with American Airlines in 2016 and Southwest Airlines in 2018. We achieved our best year ever in 2019 with 1,336 completed flights and we are committed to climbing even higher in the future. Our founder’s vision has evolved into our current mission with a consistent focus on the children we serve– we fly for their lives.

2019: Best Year Ever

Thanks to the many generous partners, sponsors and donors, 2019 was our best year ever. We flew more missions for more children and brought hope and healing to these special young children and their families. We invite you to learn more about how our mission was brought to life in our 2019 Annual Report. And we invite you to be part of the future of Children’s Flight of Hope.

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
Curi Capital
Managing Director

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

Richard (Dick) Ambrose
Lord Corporation

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.