Each of our passenger’s stories make an impact on me, and it’s never easy to lose anyone from the Angel Flight West (AFW) family. Today, I am honored to tell you about Miles, a loving child who touched the hearts of our volunteers and team members.
Miles battled brain cancer for two years before passing away on October 21, 2022 surrounded by friends and family. His memory remains etched in the hearts and minds of those who knew him. Reflecting on her son’s legacy, his mother Joy writes, “Miles the Brave inspired people around the world with his perseverance and strength to live each day to the fullest, give back to their community, and always look for the good even in the darkest of times.” Read Miles’ obituary here.
In 2020, Miles was diagnosed with medullablastoma, the most common brain tumor found in children. Joy has made it her mission to spread awareness for pediatric cancer in hopes of one day finding a cure. Miles began his fight by visiting medical facilities near his home in Etna, Calif., and traveling to other appointments miles away.
Miles had a passionate, creative side from an early age. “One of his photographs was featured in a gallery in San Francisco,” writes Joy, “and purchased to raise funds for pediatric cancer research.” He loved making things – whether that be playing music with his guitar or building relationships with others. As a student senator at his school and a member of multiple sports teams, Miles’ leadership ability was evident in all he accomplished. “If enthusiasm could win any (baseball) game,” says Joy, “they would have had a solid record thanks to Miles alone.”
Angel Flight West had the honor of flying Miles from Fort Jones, CA to Seattle, WA for treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He typically took to the skies with his father Bradley and mother Joy. Miles also had a service dog – a trusted canine companion named Charlee – that accompanied him on all his missions. AFW Command Pilot Johannes Weis is one of the volunteer pilots who welcomed Miles and his family aboard his plane 10 times over the past two years. When speaking of the family after one of their missions, Johannes said, “These are extremely thankful passengers from a tight-knit community that are all vested in Miles’ wellbeing. They are always so thankful. I love flying them.”
The Isbell family shared their story in an AFW mission video this past year, helping to spread awareness to others in need of Angel Flights — but that’s not the only way Miles gave to Angel Flight West. I had the privilege of being the host for his family at the 2022 Endeavor Awards, an annual fundraising event hosted by AFW to support charitable aviation. Miles along with his parents and brother Carter agreed to attend the 2021 event, helping to raise funds and awareness for our cause. Although my time with the Isbells was brief, one thing was immediately clear–this was an exceptionally warm, kind family. Miles and I bonded over our love for candy. His favorite sweet treat was Caramel Cow Tales – something I still need to try. From our first encounter, I was wowed by how well-spoken Miles was and by his big smile.
Miles may have gained his angel wings this year, but there are many ways to celebrate him in years to come. I agree with everyone I have spoken to about Miles: he was a remarkable kid with a huge heart. The next time you have the chance to lend an extra hand or eat a Caramel Cow Tale, I hope you do and think of Miles – a kid that left a remarkable impact on this world during his short time.
Natalie Peters, AFW Mission Coordinator