ZBW Team Helps Change Lives through LLS Mission
Thursday, September 09, 2010

From Kristine Mooso (ZBW), member of Du4-a-Cure, Team In Training:

I am participating in a Century Ride for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), Team in Training, in Lake George, N.Y., on October 2, 2010. My team members include my sisters Karen DuFour and Kelly Dixon, as well as Kelly’s son Lucas, currently active in the USCG.

Our interest in helping LLS started after a victorious battle of cancer that Kelly won. In June 1998, Kelly was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease. After six months of chemo and radiation, everyone believed she was in remission. That was not the case. In June 1999 the cancer was back, only this time in her lungs. Thankfully, there was an experimental treatment, now commonly known as a Stem Cell Transplant. After 11 days, she was released from New England Medical Center in Boston and has been in remission ever since. For me, raising money to help fund research is personal. Without it, Kelly would not be here today.

This year my team, Du4-a-Cure, is riding for three boys. One of them is a six-year-old boy named Gage Sniger. Gage was diagnosed in May 2009 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He is currently in the maintenance phase of his treatment, and goes to clinic every two weeks. Gage likes bikes and planes, and someday wants to be a pilot and design planes.

After telling NATCA ZBW member Mike Dowd of Gage's situation, Mike immediately offered to fly out with retired NATCA ZBW member Chuck Andruskiewicz. And with no hesitation, I worked with Gage’s mother, Amber, to arrange this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And the reality is, it actually could be the case. On Aug. 15, we made this little boy’s dreams come true!

Karen and Kelly drove down from Plattsburgh, N.Y., while my husband Robb and I drove from Nashua, N.H., to Pittsfield, Mass., the closest airport to Gage’s hometown with a car full of donated pilot gear. Mike and Chuck, with my children Owen and Payson on board, flew from ASH to PSF for the sole purpose of letting Gage see an airplane. At this time, we were unsure if he would want to fly or not. After the arrival of the whole family -- Amber and Bill, Gage and his twin sister Echo, his little brothers Conner and Jaden, little sister Journey and grandparents-- Gage enjoyed his airport visit. We all got to know one another in the terminal, shared gifts for all, and met some other pilots. NetJet pilot Steve Sisk was so touched he took his wings off his shirt and handed them to Gage.      

Above: Gage Sniger

After a taxi around the airport, Gage became“Pilot-in-Command” with Chuck in the left seat and Gage’s father and grandfather seated behind. And, in a matter of seconds, with the help of a few selfless people he had never met before, Gage’s dream came true. Echo also got to go for her first flight as well. It was a day the twins will never forget! But what followed was just as touching; Chuck and Mike presented Gage with his own Flight Logbook and marked down his first hour. They then presented Echo with her own set of wings! All the children got NATCA activity books, model airplanes, and goodie bags. It was a day that none of us, especially Gage, will ever forget. 

Three members of our union, along with two other union members shared the real meaning of brotherhood. The experience goes beyond words, and I fear my description does not justify the opportunity.  

Right: From L to R: Karen DuFour (NY State Troopers Police Benevolent Association), Michael Dowd (NATCA), Gage Sniger, Chuck Andruskiewicz (Retired NATCA), Kristine Mooso (NATCA), and Kelly Dixon (National Rural Letter Carrier Union) in front.

To find out more about the Du4-a-Cure team and/or make a donation, please visit http://pages.teamintraining.org/uny/peakseas10/Du4aCure