Valley resident earns wings as 'Airman for a Day'
Trevion Worthy “parachutes” in the survival school’s parachuting simulator along his journey as ‘Airman for a Day’ at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Nov. 2, 2012. Tre was the second youth to participate in the program at Fairchild AFB that gives children a break from challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. Tre has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and undergone almost two years of chemo therapy. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton)
by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
11/14/2012 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- A nine-year-old Spokane Valley, Wash., boy, who has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and has undergone almost two years of chemo therapy, had the opportunity to visit Fairchild Air Force Base Nov. 2, thanks to a program started by base's company grade officers council.
The "Airman for a Day," Trevion Worthy, was the second youth to participate in the program at Fairchild. Children like Tre get a break from challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. For Tre, these challenges come in the form of an aggressive cancer of the white blood cells. He is in the last phase of his treatment with one and a half years to go.
The math-loving 4th grader said he can't get enough of school and following treatment said he's begged his mother, Maegan Chandler, to go back. He enjoys football, soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming, tubing, camping, fishing and wants to try snowboarding this winter.
"He's been through so much and to see his high level of enthusiasm through all this is inspirational," Maegan said. "This was just awesome, because he actually got to try out things hands on; I'm really impressed and glad this program exists."
Tre and his mom visited several areas around base including aerospace physiology, the fire department, the survival school, the flight simulator, a KC-135 Stratotanker and the air traffic control tower. He talked with a diverse group of Airmen and even met a few with a personal connection to his story.
"My sister-in-law is fighting cancer," said Lt. Col. Matt Albright, 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace physiological training flight commander. "She's stayed involved in life much like Tre has, but it's amazing for how young he is, his involvement (in life) hasn't faded."
But the colonel wasn't the only one who shared their personal connection. A survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist took special care in ensuring Tre had a great time and shared his own story as well.
"This event hits home for me," said Airman 1st Class Casey Blackmon, 336th Training Group SERE specialist and who's sister was diagnosed with cancer when he was four-years-old.
Blackmon said even though he was young, the impact of his sister's ailment has influenced his decisions since. He said it was great to see how strong and funny Tre was despite his condition saying, "He's a good little kid too."
While touring the survival school, Col. William Thomas, 336th TRG commander, shared his experience as a cancer survivor as well as recognizing Tre for how resilient he's been so far.
As "Airman for a Day," Tre was issued a custom-sized Airman battle uniform, a second lieutenant's flight suit, an explosive ordnance disposal ball cap and various patches and challenge coins from people at each location he visited.
"The virtual reality parachuting training was my favorite," said Tre, a video game connoisseur. "I felt like I was actually falling from the sky and trying to land on the ships."
For this parachuting training, the survival school equipped Tre with his own harness and strapped him into the simulated parachute, with directional cords, giving him complete control of his direction as he tried landing on a Navy aircraft carrier.
The visit to Fairchild inspired him to the point he's considering joining the Air Force one day.
"When I grow up, I want to become a pilot," Tre said with a smile.
"Words cannot express my overwhelming gratitude," Maegan added. "This all is just amazing to me. I am elated."
But Maegan and Tre weren't the only ones who enjoyed the day.
"Being able to connect with kids like Tre through this program is very rewarding," Albright said. "Having a positive attitude influences everyone around us, especially those dealing with something like cancer. So I'm happy to have been a part of this. Tre is a very special kid."
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