The wheels on Mike and Jackie’s rig turned very early the morning of July 19 as the couple headed to Charlestown, Indiana, to pick up Stanley, the first Angel Wheels patient to get a ride in a motor coach since the nonprofit organization was reinstated by Mercy Medical Angels. Mike Miller is a volunteer driver who calls Livingston, Texas, home base. They were in Kentucky visiting Mike’s mother.
The two rose at 4:00 a.m. and drove to Charlestown in their luxurious 40-foot Mountain Aire. Stanley, a 15-year-old boy who suffers from epilepsy, and his mom, Karolee, got on board, with Stanley sitting up front as Mike’s “co-pilot.”
Their destination was Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center there is one of the nation’s leading facilities. Stanley was scheduled to undergo tests to determine whether or not he would be a good candidate for surgery. Besides taking anti-seizure medication, he also has a vagus nerve stimulator that was implanted surgically in 2008. “It’s supposed to cut back on seizures, but Stanley has been having difficulties,” Karolee said. She hopes he’ll be able to have the surgery, which repairs the part of the brain from which his seizures originate. “They’re having a lot of success at Cincinnati,” she added.
Mike said that on the trip, he learned Stanley is “a history buff. He was looking around, asking questions, commenting on the old, historic homes and buildings in Cincinnati.”
A rocket scientist who retired from Lockheed Martin after 33 years, Mike said he’d always traveled in his work. “I was at the company’s beck and call. Now I can travel at my own pace.”
He and Jackie spend winters in Apache Junction, Arizona, and travel the rest of the year in their motor coach. “We spend a week or so in each place.” Mike learned about Angel Wheels through the Family Motor Coach Association. “Jackie and I had been looking for something to do to give back.” Angel Wheels filled the bill.
Karolee is a stay-at-home mom with two older, grown daughters. She said the three-hour trip went smoothly. “Jim Smith [Angel Wheels executive director] had everything set up. We had a wonderful time. It was nice and comfortable.”
Stanley attends a private school in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and is in the tenth grade. “He loves anything to do with mechanics,” Karolee said. “He likes to draw and he loves dogs. We have a dog named Lola. She can pick up on Stanley’s seizures. She alerts me if something’s going on with him. She taps on my bed with her paw until she wakes me.”
While her son was being tested, Karolee stayed in a Ronald McDonald House, and Mike and Jackie went to Columbus, Ohio, to visit friends. At the end of the week, they picked up mother and son and returned them safely home.”
Before saying goodbye, Stanley gave Mike and Jackie a gift he bought at the hospital. “He just about made me and Jackie cry when he gave it to us,” Mike said.
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