CFC helps Airman's family during time of need

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Duncan McElroy
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Each year, the CFC raises hundreds of thousands of dollars across the federal government for charities dedicated to helping families in need. This year the CFC runs from Oct. 1 through Nov. 14.

Each year, Maj. David Young, 336th Training Squadron commander shares the story of two CFC organizations that jumped to the aid of his family when they needed it the most.

In February 2001, Young took his then 12-year-old daughter to the local southern Illinois hospital with stomach pains. Stomach pains can mean almost anything - but for Young, it turned out to be the worst for his little girl.

His daughter had a cyst on her ovary. She had ovarian cancer.

Once the local hospital found out, they rushed her to the nearest major hospital that would take her, the St. Louis Children's Hospital.

"There was no opportunity for us to stay at the hospital," said Young, 336th Training Squadron commander. "That's where CFC comes into this - the Ronald McDonald House stepped in and gave us a place to stay."

For future visits, Young's family was able to stay at the hospital, he added. But that very first time, the most crucial time when the shock and confusion was highest, the Ronald McDonald House was there for them.

"At that time in 2001, I didn't know about all these charities in the CFC," he said. "I didn't know I could benefit from the gifts of others."

The CFC wasn't done with the Young family, however. Certain charities were ready to assist during the whole treatment.

"Chemotherapy is a long process, you have to keep going back," he said. "She had a port put in her because of the multiple trips. One time she wasn't reacting very well with the medicine and treatment, but there was no transportation to get her to St. Louis. Angel Flight, another CFC organization, was ready to go.

"They were going to land their helicopter in a dirt field if they had to in order to get my girl to the hospital," he added. "They were primed, pumped and ready to help."

At the last moment they were able to secure medical transportation to make the three-hour trek to the children's hospital. Angel Flight ended up not being utilized, but Young makes a donation to them through the CFC every year for the simple fact that they were right there waiting to help, he said.

After all the treatments, traveling and stress, Young's daughter beat the cancer. She lost one ovary and the other was damaged from the chemotherapy.

"The doctors said don't get your hopes up for a grandkid," Young remembers. "Well, last October, our daughter had a girl. Her name means 'miracle.' Going from all this tragedy to having a granddaughter is amazing."

The joy of having a granddaughter has inspired Young to share his story and encourage people to donate, no matter the amount.

"When you're a family in need, you can't see what's going on down the road," he said. "All you see is the need at that moment, and for people to come in and tell you it's alright, that they'll take care of it - whether it's a ride to the hospital or a room to stay in for a few nights, that's okay. Don't worry about the money; just take care of your family."

"I can't even describe the burdens these organizations took off us," he added.

Every year, Young gives a donation to Ronald McDonald House, Angel Flight and children's cancer research organizations for their willingness to help his family, in addition to telling his story and guiding people in the direction of the CFC for help when they need it.

"It's a humbling feeling to know that through awareness, people are giving outside of their means to countless charities locally and internationally," said Capt. Elicia Brown, base CFC coordinator. "Participation [at Keesler] has been extremely high this year, and so far we've raised over $88,000."

The CFC allowed Young's daughter to have a second chance at life, and his enthusiasm for sharing the good news about the organizations involved is something he hopes catches on to other people.

"Here's your opportunity to impact a life," Young said. "You don't even know these people, but I guarantee that family is going to be extremely appreciative. If I could go out and find all those people who contributed, shake their hands and thank them, I would. I'd tell them they had no idea the burden and pressure they helped us with - that they gave me a gift in that moment in time that was absolutely priceless."

The 2014 CFC officially ends Nov. 14. For more information on the CFC, a list of the charities being represented and opportunities to donate, visit