SHS alumna had the flight of her life

Published 8:12 am Thursday, July 18, 2019

Straughn High School alumna and Opp native Lauren Hunt had the flight of her life thanks to the South Alabama Regional Airport.

Hunt had always dreamed of getting to fly, but is currently battling kidney failure.

“The young lady that always dreamt of getting to fly is currently battling a fight that most of us could never imagine having to do,” SARA executive director Jed Blackwell said. “She currently has end-stage kidney failure and is only 20 years old. She takes dialysis three days each week. Her kidney failure has caused her to have congestive heart failure and because of this, she has been removed from the transplant list. Her heart is not strong enough to handle the surgery.”

The request to fly originated from Sandy Liles in Opp and brought to Blackwell’s attention by airport administrator Misty Jones.

“We were able to reach the young lady’s mother late last night [Monday] letting her know who we were,” Blackwell said. “Through texts we agreed to talk again this morning. We contacted her and asked her if we could set up a flight for her daughter Lauren Hunt. As we said this, she immediately started crying and repeatedly told us, ‘This is the best thing that’s ever happened to us,’ It was a very touching moment.”

With the request in order, all they needed to do was find a plane and a pilot.

“We contacted local aircraft owner/pilot John Roberts about flying the young lady,” Blackwell said. “John, without hesitation, immediately replied that he would be honored to fly her.”

Though Hunt is constantly battling the disease, Blackwell did not want to discuss the situation during the flight.

“Today wasn’t about discussing Lauren’s medical condition,” Blackwell said. “She knows God is in control of that. Her love for the Lord absolutely shows in her in so many ways. Including the shirt she was wearing. Today was all about Lauren having fun and making memories. Having the best airplane ride ever. She and her beautiful smiling face arrived at the airport today for a great lunch followed by that fantastic airplane ride.”

Blackwell said that several locals around the airport came out in support of Hunt including airport staff members, Covington Electric Cooperative staff members, Opp Chamber of Commerce staff, Covington County Economic Development staff and City of Opp Mayor Becky Bracke.

Hunt was accompanied on the ride by her mother, Kellie Scofield.