Charleston squadron helps build 'a room for Phillip'

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeff Kelly
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Airmen of the Air Force Reserve Command's 300th Airlift Squadron have a history of reaching out to those in need.

Each year, the squadron donates time and money to a deserving person or family. This year the 300th AS is doing more to aid a little boy who needs some big help.

Led by Master Sgt. Tim Potter, the squadron team built a new bedroom for 12-year-old Phillip Tracy-Curtis, who suffers from spina bifida. Phillip is scheduled to undergo a major surgery in late January that involves a spinal fusion operation to correct an ever-worsening curvature in his spine.

Phillip's house was not designed for the use of a wheelchair. The tight quarters prevent him from using his wheelchair when he is at home, so a parent carries him or he crawls where he needs to go. The need for additional space, coupled with Phillip's looming surgery, made the need for a handicapped-accessible room that much more urgent.

"Originally we were just going to donate money to Phillip's cause," said Sergeant Potter. "But the ultimate cost for the plan was going to be so great that we contacted Project Home and the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and built the project from there trying to get everything done for him."

The house addition for Phillip costs an estimated $50,000 to $75,000, according to Emily Abedon, Project Home director.

"Along with the civilian contractors who are donating time and money, there are several members of the squadron who are contractors and own their own businesses who are pitching in to help Phillip as well," said Sergeant Potter.

The nearly 500-square-foot room for Phillip will include many amenities to make life easier for him and his family. These amenities include ample recovery space, a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and an outdoor deck with a ramp, giving Phillip the freedom to go outdoors directly from his room once his recovery is complete.

Phillip's recovery will take several months. Most of this time will be spent in bed allowing time for his spine to heal. For this reason, his room will be connected to a touch screen video monitor that will be able to control everything in his room. He will be able to manage lighting, television, climate control and virtually anything else he needs without leaving his bed.

Construction started the first week of January, and contractors say the work will be completed by Feb. 2, the date Phillip is expected to return home from the hospital.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Phillip found it hard to conceal his eagerness to move into his new room. "When are we going to get started?" he asked. "I'll help you guys!"

The 300th AS had another surprise in store for Phillip, making him an honorary Airman and rolling out the red carpet during a tour of the base. Members of the squadron showed Phillip the flightline, took him on board a C-17 Globemaster III and even let him take the controls of a C-17 at the flight simulator. Phillip was happy to find out that the 300th AS had a flight suit made for him complete with nametag and squadron patch. His uniform was made complete when he was given his dog tags and squadron hat.

Phillip's mother and father said they were very grateful for the men and women of the 300th AS.

"This is awful nice of everyone in the military to be doing this for Phillip," said Michael Curtis, Phillip's father. "They just came in and said 'We'll do it for you.' We can't thank them enough."

(Courtesy of Air Force Reserve Command News Service)

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