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From and copyright the Monett Times – Monett, Missouri -  Gratefully posted on Tall Tales Web Site with permission of the Monett Times.

                     August 01, 2001

  Ready to fly high, campers from Camp Barnabas went airborne thanks  to Challenge Air, a  group of aviation enthusiasts who volunteer to show that physical limitations and illness don’t need to reshape a person’s goals and dreams. Above, volunteer Whitey Mettlach helped lift one of the wheelchair bound campers into A.J. Malnar's French plane at the    Monett Municipal Airport for an excursion into the clouds.

                     [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff]

                     Challenge Air helps Camp Barnabas

                     Murray Bishoff -  Managing Editor

                     Published July 30, 2001 4:00 PM CDT

                     Pilots demonstrate to children with physical  limitations, illness that the sky is the limit for their aspirations

                   Children who go to Camp Barnabas, the camp for  those with chronic illness or handicaps southwest of Pulaskifield, escape from daily lives of struggling with their special conditions  for a week of life just like other kids when they come from              across the nation for a stay in southwest Missouri.

                     Recently, Champions Week at Camp Barnabas was  enhanced with another treat, a visit by Challenge Air and a chance to ride in an airplane

                     Camp Barnabas holds seven camping sessions  organized around specific physical challenges. Champions Week was those facing physical and medical conditions, and their siblings. Many of the campers were in wheelchairs. They are the  target audience for Challenge Air for Kids and Friends, founded in 1993 to give disabled children the opportunity to experience the world from a different perspective, from the air.

                     The founder of Challenge Air, Rick Amber, became  a paraplegic in Vietnam. He wanted to show children that although they may be physically impaired, they can still do anything they  want. "When kids see a paraplegic flying a plane, they realize       they can do anything they want. All limits are self-imposed. Flying is a life-long memory," Amber said.

                     Every camper from Camp Barnabas came to the  Monett airport where 11 pilot participating in the Challenge Air effort assembled with their planes. They were  led by Theron  Wright, a staff member of Challenge Air, who was himself in a          wheelchair.

                   The children were treated by a parachute jump by  Brian Hunter, a pilot for Jack Henry and Associates, leaping from Jack Fox's Stearman bi-plane. He landed in from of the city hangar before the children, many of whom raised their arms in an    oval over their heads, touching their fingers in the gesture of a standing ovation.

                   Wright arrived, spinning about in his wheelchair with  expert ease, and gave the children a brief tour of an airplane and the reason it flies. He told the group,"Regardless of any challenge or what anyone tells you, you can be anything you want to do and  be. Your thing is, 'Yes I can.' "

                     Campers went up in planes accompanied by  counselors, and returned smiling. "It was awesome," commented Cyndy Teas, co-owner of Camp Barnabas with husband Paul Teas. The Saturday was spent taking children up to 1,500 feet for  a view of the world unencumbered by problems with personal mobility. Several dozen local volunteers were also on hand to assist the camp staff in supervising the loading, unloading, and  coordinating activities on the ground.

                     The campers each received a Challenge Air T-shirt,  a set of gold aviator wings, a flight certificate commemorating the achievement, and membership in the prestigious Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles Program.

                     The Challenge Air visit was made possible through  the efforts of Camp Barnabas,  Challenge Air, and Jack Henry and Associates.

                     COPYRIGHT ® 2001 The Monett Times, a division  of Cleveland Newspapers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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