NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Bills legend Jim Kelly recently flew to New York City and awaits surgery there. He was flown to New York by Wings Flight of Hope.
Wings Flights of Hope says they will transport anyone, anywhere, anytime for medical purposes, so transportation doesn’t stand in the way of medical care. They have provided transportation for at least 300 patients in the last year alone.
Wings Flights of Hope has flown Kelly and his family to New York twice for medical treatment. It’s a free service with an all-volunteer staff. Joe DeMarco is the founder and pilot, he got a call from Jim Kelly’s team recently and they said time was of the essence, as it is for many patients.
DeMarco said, “Transplant or anything like that, or someone going for their cancer treatment. We usually get them to New York, or Philadelphia or wherever, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, faster than you could just get through security and wait to get on a plane.”
DeMarco said, “When you’re ill, every minute makes a difference.”
Kylee Ryan flies with Wings Flights of Hope to take her son for a checkup every six months, and she said “they are an amazing organization and we are lucky to have them.”
Kelly is expected to have surgery later this week, as he battles a recurrence of cancer. The cancer, according to Kelly’s wife, Jill, has spread and is aggressive. Last June, Kelly had some teeth and part of his jaw removed, but the oral cancer has come back.
Kelly is said to be weak and “in bad shape.” He’s been in and out of hospitals for the past 10 days, but News 4 has learned that Kelly is scheduled to have surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on Thursday because doctors wanted to see him immediately. His friend Dennis DiPaolo says that the family’s decision to go to Lenox Hill Hospital had everything to do with the oral surgeon who will be operating.
DiPaolo said,”He is the specialist. I believe he’s like one of the top five in the world to perform the surgery and needless to say, the community all says, ‘You know what, he’s the main guy, go to him’, so the whole western New York community from Roswell, to ECMC, all the people say Jim, whatever you need, we’re here for you and needless to say, the rehab’s going to be very difficult.”
DiPaolo says former Buffalo Bills quarterback is in a lot of pain, but he adds that isn’t stopping Kelly from keeping his spirits up.
“He’s like come on, don’t hang your heads. Like you walk in the room and he’s in a huddle and still commanding everyone and even if he’s trying to rest his eyes, he knows you’re there and he goes, ‘Thanks for coming you guys.’ He’s just a remarkable individual,” DiPaolo said.
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