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A Room for Phillip

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jeff Kelly
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The men and women of the 315th Airlift Wing's 300th Airlift Squadron have a history of reaching out to those in need. Each year the 300 AS donates time and money to a deserving person or family, but this year the squadron went above and beyond anything that has previously been done in order to aid a little boy who needed some big help.

The 300 AS team, led by Master Sergeant Tim Potter, organized a multi-headed operation to build a brand new bedroom for 12-year-old Phillip Tracy-Curtis, who suffers from spina bifida. Phillip is scheduled to undergo a major surgery later this month that involves a spinal fusion operation to correct an ever worsening curvature in his spine.

Phillip's house was not designed for the use of a wheelchair. The tight quarters prevent him from using his wheelchair when he is at home, so he is carried by one of his devoted parents or crawls where he needs to go. The need for additional space coupled with Phillip's looming surgery made the need for a handicapped-accessible room that much more urgent.

"Originally we were just going to donate money to Phillip's cause," said Master Sgt. Potter. "But the ultimate cost for the plan was going to be so great that we contacted Project Home and DHEC (the Department of Health and Environmental Control) and built the project from there trying to get everything done for him."

The house addition for Phillip is estimated to cost $50,000 to $75,000 according to Project Home Director, Emily Abedon.

"Along with the civilian contractors who are donating time and money, there are several members of the squadron who are contractors and own their own businesses who are pitching in to help Phillip as well," said Master Sgt. Potter.

The nearly 500-square-foot room for Phillip will include many amenities that will make life much easier for him and his family. These amenities will include ample recovery space, a wheelchair accessible bathroom and an outdoor deck with a ramp giving Phillip the freedom to go outdoors directly from his room once his recovery is complete.

Phillip's recovery will take several months. Most of this time will be spent in bed allowing time for his spine to heal. For this reason, Phillip's room will be connected to a touch screen video monitor that will be able to control everything in his room. He will be able to manage lighting, television, climate control and virtually anything else he needs without leaving his bed.

"The entire squadron came together to make this a reality," said Lt. Col. Bill Edwards, 300 AS squadron commander. "But Tim (Potter) really took the bull by the horns and made this happen. He asked for both my permission and my support and he got them both, but he is the one who always spearheads community service and overall humanitarian efforts for our squadron. We are lucky to have him."

Construction started this week on Phillip's room, and contractors say that the work will be completed by February 2, the date Phillip is expected to return home from the hospital after his surgery.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Phillip found it hard to conceal his eagerness to move into his new room. "When are we going to get started," asked Phillip? "I'll help you guys!"
The 300 AS had another surprise in store for Phillip, making him an honorary Airman and rolling out the red carpet during a tour of the base. Members of the 300 showed Phillip the flight-line, took him on board a C-17 and even let him take the controls of a C-17 at the flight simulator. Phillip was extremely happy to find out that the 300 AS had a flight suit made for him complete with nametag and squadron patch. His uniform was made complete when he was given his dog tags and squadron hat.

"Yes," said Phillip! "I'm so excited! I'm going to be a pilot now!"
Phillip's mother and father said they were very grateful for the men and women of the 300 AS.

This is awful nice of everyone in the military to be doing this for Phillip," said Michael Curtis, Phillip's father. "They just came in and said we'll do it for you. We can't thank them enough."

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