Luke’s Wings was founded in January 2008 by a group of compassionate individuals who observed the struggles of wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in Washington, DC.
In May of 2007, Sarah Wingfield, a Redskins Cheerleader Ambassador, was on a moral visit at Walter Reed when she met a special service member who sparked an idea. Luke Shirley was a double amputee recovering from his injuries far away from his loved ones. Trying to start up a conversation, Sarah immediately noticed that Luke was disinterested in talking to anyone. However, his entire demeanor changed when his mom, who was there serving as his non-medical attendant, walked into the room.
Sarah shared her experience with co-founder Fletcher Gill a few months later and after learning more, they found that the government provides just three flights for loved ones to be present upon initial injury. Once those flights are purchased, usually within the first weeks of being injured, families are completely on their own for transportation to and from the hospital. From this conversation, the organization was created with the purpose of raising enough money to book flights for loved ones to visit their warriors at Walter Reed. Named after the two people who inspired the idea of “flying families and lifting spirits,” Luke’s Wings was here to support the long and difficult road to recovery.
From January 2008 through 2011, Luke’s Wings operated as a strictly volunteer based charity. There were no salaries, no full time employees, and no office space; just passionate volunteers making a difference. However, that all changed in 2012 when sufficient funding allowed for three full time employees; ultimately growing into the organization it is today. After ten years, we now serve a long list of military medical facilities, VA medical centers and hospice facilities across the country and have provided airfare for families across all 50 states and internationally. Though far from our humble beginnings, our team of five full-time employees remain committed to maintaining a clear and obvious mission: to support the community of wounded, ill and injured service members and their loved ones with the gift of flight. Join us in our mission to keep our families flying!
Luke’s Wings is a fully tax deductible 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our Tax ID number is #26-1691195