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Hospice nurse arranges plane to fly dying father to watch son's football game

A Kentucky father said his last wish was to see his son's big football game which was hours away by car, so a resourceful nurse found an amazing way to help him.
Credit: Hospice of Lake Cumberland/Facebook

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A hospice nurse in Kentucky became close with one of her patients who was told he only had a short time to live. They both bonded and became friends, and one day when he told her his big wish before he died, she used her community connections to make it happen. 

Scott Sullivan, 50, of Somerset, Kentucky was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer after receiving abnormal results from some diagnostic tests back in August. He was told he had leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, which is caused by a cancer complication where the disease spreads to membranes around the spinal cord and brain. 

When Sullivan was told he only had weeks or months to live, he was admitted to Hospice of Lake Cumberland in Somerset where he met nurse Jerree Humphrey. The two would become close, bonding over their children who play sports and are about the same age. 

There Humphrey learned of her new patient's bucket list. On the top of that list was a simple request: to see his son's, 17-year-old Cade Sullivan, season opener football game. 

But, there was one challenge. The car ride to get there and back totaled nearly 8 hours, which wouldn't be a good idea for a man in Sullivan's condition. 

"So he said, ‘What do you think about me going,’ and I was like, well I don’t really know because it’s like a three-and-a-half hour car drive, then three-and-a-half hours back, so I thought if it was that far, about a seven or eight hours drive, it really wasn’t feasible, you know. So he kind of laughed and he said, ‘Do you have a helicopter in your backyard?’” Humphrey recalled.  

That made Humphrey start to think about who she knew who could make this happen. She remembered that she is friends with a woman named Kellie Baker, the manager of a nearby airport. 

"So I thought, if anybody would know if somebody would be willing to do that, then it would be her,” Humphrey said.  

So she made the phone call, and things just began to fall into place.

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With Baker's help, local pilot and dentist Dr. Denny Brummett agreed to fly them to the game. Brummett has been flying since 1998 and uses the small plane he owns to work for AERObridge, which is a group that flies relief supplies to areas hit by natural disasters. 

“The airport manager is friends with Jerree, I went to high school with her (Nurse Humphrey) as well, but we hadn’t been in contact for a long time,” Brummett said. “But they called and mentioned Scott (Sullivan) was wanting to go to this game.”

Dr. Brummett said he was excited to go too, and get a change of scenery after being quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic. 

When Humphrey told Sullivan what she was able to make happen, he couldn't believe it. 

“Whenever I told him, he was so excited and thrilled. He was like, ‘Are you serious, are you serious, seriously,’” Humphrey recalled

Credit: Hospice of Lake Cumberland/Facebook

Brummett got to know Sullivan during the trip and the two bonded and exchanged phone numbers. Brummett lost his own mother about a year before, and was able to get some perspective on what it must be like for Sullivan's son. 

The group arrived to the game and made sure to sit at a distance so as to abide by pandemic protocols. Sullivan and the group agreed that the weather held up nicely. 

“It was the most beautiful day,” Humphrey said. “It was so perfect. The weather was so perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. The Lord worked it out for us.”

Sullivan's son Cade ran up to him when he saw his father was able to make it to the game. 

"You could just not help but cry," Nurse Humphrey said. "He just embraced him so hard and was just so thankful for him to be there." 

Sullivan said it would be a memory his son would be able to keep when he is gone.