When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., TJ Kim’s lacrosse season was canceled along with so many other things.
The 16-year-old decided to turn his attention to the one hobby he could still pursue: flying. His dad set up his first lesson to celebrate his 15th birthday, and the second TJ got into the cockpit, he was hooked.
With a year of training under his belt, TJ has started making flights that are over 50 miles long. When the pandemic hit, the sophomore at Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, decided to follow his school’s directive and find a way to serve his community.
As soon as he learned that nearby rural hospitals were lacking the basic medical supplies needed to treat patients with COVID-19, he used his skills as a pilot to help.
“They kind of conveyed to me that they were really forgotten about,” TJ said. “Everyone was wanting to send donations to big city hospitals. Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten.”
So TJ got to work gathering as much medical equipment as he could find and loading up his plane.
His first delivery was to a 25-bed hospital in Luray, Virginia. Next up was a small facility in Woodstock, Virginia, where he handed off 3,000 gloves, 1,000 head covers, 500 shoe covers, 50 nonsurgical masks, 20 pairs of protective eyewear, and 10 bottles of hand sanitizer.
The teen is calling his mission “Operation SOS: Supplies Over Skies.” He said the hardest part is not the flying, but finding the materials, so he’s hoping to receive more donations.
TJ’s heroism is just getting started! He plans to enroll in the United States Naval Academy when he finishes high school so he can continue giving back.
What a meaningful way to support his community! Thank you, TJ, for everything you’re doing to help the hardworking individuals on the front lines of this battle.
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