Tia's Speech for the Via Christi Hospital Foundation

Saturday Evening October 23, 2004, Wichita, Kansas

Every little girl has a hero. My hero was my daddy.

I was 13 years old when my daddy’s plane crashed. He fought bravely for 36 days, but not without the love and caring of the Via Christi Burn Staff. It was painful to sit in the hospital, day after day, and watch him fight for life. But I knew he was in good hands. The nurses and doctors gave all they had to help my dad survive.

One day at the hospital, the mother of a burn patient brought a basket full of useful items for my mommy. But most of all, that basket was filled with love and hope. My mom still talks about the kindness of Mrs. Cornejo.

Since my dad’s death, my family and I have done everything in our power to make sure my father’s legacy lives on. We have created a basket similar to the one Mrs. Carnejo made. It contains items like a hairbrush, toothpaste and toothbrush, stamps, a phone card, playing cards, and a very special book. This book was written by a pilot who died flying, like my daddy. The book is about love and friendship and adversity. It is called “The Little Prince”.

We hope that this basket will help the families of burn patients staying by the side of their loved ones, and that it will remind them that there are people out there who care and understand what they’re going through.

In honor of my hero, my Daddy, I am pleased to present the very first two Eric baskets to the Via Christ Burn Center.