PRESCOTT- The death of a child is one of the most painful things a parent can go through. Bonnie and Floyd Waite went through this when their child, James, died six years ago at the age of 35 from addiction.
“It’s been six years to just deal with it,” said Bonnie.
“You never get over it,” Floyd added.
Bonnie and Floyd Waite are involved with Safe Launch, a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization, whose goal is to inform both parents and children about addiction. The Safe Launch plane was on display at the AOPA event at the Ernest A. Love Prescott Municipal Airport.
“We started Safe Launch to educate parents about brain development,” said Safe Launch co-founder Janet Rowse. “It turns out that most people don’t know that the real risk for kids and drug use is the fact that their brains are not fully developed.”
Safe Launch is sending home the message of addiction dangers to children in creative ways. During the AOPA (Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association) Fly-In at the Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, the organization brought a plane owned by fellow co-founder Ron Cuff and allowed children to make their own mark on the aircraft using markers and paint after learning a lesson about addiction dangers from Cuff and other volunteers.
“My hope is that by allowing kids to get this close to an airplane, become intimately familiar with it-the way it looks-the way it feels, perhaps inspire a dream in them,” said Cuff.
“I tell the kids that a good life is like a good flight. My flights have all been good because I plan for them, because I keep my mind sharp, because I always have a destination in mind and then I always have an alternate in mind,” Cuff continued. “So I tell the kids that they have to keep their mind sharp and they have to decide on what they plan to do with their life in order for it to be successful.”
Safe Launch also runs a program on their website which allows parents who have lost a child to send information about the child’s personality, future dreams etc. The child’s name is then put under the wing of the plane, allowing their name to soar through the clouds.
James Waite’s name is under the wing of the plane and when his parents participate in events with Safe Launch, Bonnie and Floyd said it’s a way to connect with their son and make a difference in other young lives.
“We feel that when we do this…I get to visit with him while he’s here and get to help other kids make good decisions,” Bonnie said.
“Feels good to help other youngsters learn about addiction,” Floyd added.
Individuals can learn more about the mission of Safe Launch and donate to the cause by visiting their website at safelaunch.org.