After Lockheed Martin received the call from Make-A-Wish®, the corporate team reached out to Aeronautics and Rotary and Mission Systems to plan an experience for a special boy with a serious heart condition. With two options — jets or helicopters — the Beyer family chose the latter and packed their bags for a weekend in Connecticut.
William Beyer, a six-year-old from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, was born with a rare heart defect called hypoplastic right heart syndrome. At 10 months, he underwent a heart transplant and continues to work with doctors to prevent organ rejection.
Lockheed Martin partnered with Make-A-Wish to give William and his family a “Pilot for a Day” experience Sept. 4 at the Sikorsky site in Stratford, Connecticut. William was provided a perfectly fitted and personalized flight suit, a flight jacket with all the proper badges, and a shiny new pair of aviator sunglasses before taking to the sky in a Sikorsky S-76® helicopter with his parents and younger brother Jake.
“There’s been lots of ups and downs the last two years,” said Michelle Beyer, William’s mom. “We’ve tried to treat him like there’s nothing going on. This has been a good distraction, it helps.”
In addition to the helicopter flight, William and his family toured final assembly with a standing ovation from employees, raced in the S-97 Raider simulator, and enjoyed lunch with Sikorsky pilots as they shared their stories.
“Thank you for making his wish come true,” wrote William’s dad, Wes Beyer, on Sikorsky’s Facebook page. “His mom and I were especially moved by all the workers who showed him support and gave him a great welcome as we toured the factory. William is truly blessed.”
John McGonagle, director of flight operations and chief pilot at Sikorsky, said their day with William was one the staff will never forget. He was impressed with William’s questions and how he manned the controls during the flight.
“We were all-in from the start,” said John. “We were thrilled to partner with a great organization like Make-A-Wish. It was just amazing to see our entire company come together in support of a young child who wants to learn more about aviation — that’s what our company is all about.”
“The Sikorsky team’s involvement to make William’s wish a reality is an inspiration to all of us,” said Kim Smith, director of Corporate and Community Giving with Make-A-Wish Connecticut. “They honored William and his family in a way that words can’t describe. William’s wish day at Sikorsky was a wonderful day filled with incredible moments that gave William and his family unforgettable memories.”
Pilot Mark Ward presented William with an honorary test pilot certificate. “To have a child’s top wish be for the job you do every day, really puts your own life into perspective,” Mark said.
View the full “Story of Hope” covered by Connecticut Fox61.