Posted by trip (18.104.22.168) on April 01, 2001 at 16:37:22:
This story should make your day better:
On November 1, 1986, a Coca-Cola corporate jet arrived at Elizabeth City,
North Carolina, carrying the CEO and several members of the Board of
Directors. At the same time as it was arriving, a Coast Guard Falcon 20
jet was about to take off. It was headed to Memphis, Tennessee to pick
up a little girl by the name of Crystal Grant and carry her on to Good
Samaritans Children's Hospital in Houston, Texas, to undergo a liver
As the Coast Guard Falcon 20 jet was beginning its takeoff, it blew both
front tires, causing the jet to veer off the runway and run into a
fenceline. The pilots of the Coca-Cola plane watched the events and
slowly began to hear reports over their cockpit radio about the other
jet's mercy mission. The CEO and his passengers witnessed the scene, and
asked the pilots what was going on. Once the CEO had learned of the
situation, he asked to be taken to the Coast Guard Station so he could
speak with the Station Commander.
Once there, he asked the Commander if there was anything he could offer
or do. The Commander said, in a frustrated voice, "Yeah, can you make
miracles happen. We need a jet and we need one fast." The CEO just
smiled and said, "You've got one," pointing to his company jet. Within
two hours the Coca-Cola jet was on its way to Memphis and the situation
seemed under control.
But - unknown to them - a similar scene was playing out in San Diego,
where the donor organ was being prepared for transport to Houston. The
aircraft lined up to take it to Houston had lost its ability to
pressurize its cabin and a similar scramble was under way to find a
replacement. Calls went out and everyone in San Diego made excuses -from
corporate CEO's to airline managers - as to why they just couldn't help
Word of the dilemma made its way to Elizabeth City. The situation was
reaching its last window of opportunity for the surgeons. Time was now
becoming an enemy. Again, the CEO of Coca-Cola was called to help out.
He jumped on the phone and contacted his pilots, who were now in Houston.
They told him there was just no way they could fly from Houston to San
Diego, retrieve the organ, and then return to Houston in time for the
operation to take place.
The CEO began to consider what would be speedy enough to retrieve it in
time. The answer came to him like a miracle. A call was placed to the
Governor of Georgia, and he in turn placed a call to the Governor of
California requesting help. On that day, sitting on the ramp at the
Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, were 8 brand new F18 Fighters
wearing the colors of the "Blue Angels." They were waiting for their
debut at an 'Air Show' November 6th.
It took four phone calls to reach the Air Station Commander, and two more
to reach the Commander of the "Blue Angels." In less than an hour, Navy
Lt. Tony Less, in Blue Angel No. 8, was gear-up and East-bound. His
precious cargo was in the rear seat, securely strapped in place by four
dress belts. In Houston, neither the family nor anyone else knew what
events had been unfolding. Without the family or anyone else knowing,
the local media had interviewed little Crystal moments before she was
placed into the prepping room for her surgery. A reporter asked her if
she were scared. Crystal said, "No, I'm not worried. My mommy told me
that my Angel would watch over me." It was an ironic statement indeed.
At that moment, Blue Angel No. 8 was disengaging from an Air National
Guard refueling tanker over New Mexico and making a mad dash for Houston.
The clock was still ticking, and each movement of the hand went further
against the surgeons. With only 90 minutes to spare, Angel No. 8 landed
on Houston's Hobby Runway 4L and rolled out to a stop surrounded by
police cars and an ambulance to rush the organ to the hospital. The
transplant was successful, and Crystal returned home to Memphis in time
The CEO of Coca-Cola lobbied the Fortune 100 companies to create
"Corporate Angel Network," the name inspired by the event involving
Coca-Cola and the Blue Angels.
To this day Blue Angel No.8 wears a small silhouette of an Angel praying
on the canopy rail and the name "Crystal" written underneath.
A little over a month after the surgery, the "Blues" made a planned
detour to Memphis to say hello to a little girl named Crystal. And it
was on that day, December 18, 1986, that Crystal met her Angel, the Angel
who saved her life. That was fourteen years ago.
Today, Crystal Grant is 24, and every year she is personally invited by
the Blue Angels to attend a show near her home in Memphis as the guest of
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