NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — There are many people who wish for the opportunity to see the home of the fighter pilot.
With the help of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Georgious Kalevrosoglou, an 18 year old from Greece, diagnosed with leukemia, was able to do just that.
Members of the 57th Wing gave Kalevrosoglou and his family a hands-on tour of the various flying units at Nellis, Sept. 20.
“I am very blessed for my son,” said Maria Kalevrosoglou, Georgious’ mother. “I’m glad he got the opportunity to see the aircraft and make his wish come true.”
Kalevrosoglou was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 16. Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells in the body, causing them to become abnormal and unable to fight infections or bacteria. Since his diagnosis, Kalevrosoglou has undergone countless chemotherapy sessions and received a bone marrow transplant.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, an international non-profit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions, reached out to Nellis to make Kalevrosoglou’s dream come true.
In order for him to travel the distance required to visit Nellis, he had to have no signs of active leukemia cells for a minimum of one year. Once he met those conditions, the foundation and Nellis were more than willing to make his wish come true.
“I reached out to Nellis in order to match his interests with the amount of time we had for the tour,” said Nicole Rainey, Make-A-Wish director of programs and services for Southern Nevada.
The day-long visit to Nellis started with a trip to the 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, where he and his family had the opportunity to see an F-16 Fighting Falcon up close. Kalevrosoglou was then allowed to sit in the cockpit of the aircraft and personally see what the pilots of the U.S. Air Force do every day to prepare for a mission. They later visited the U.S. Air Force aerial demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, and received a signed lithograph from the team.
Major Jeffery Buckland, Joint Electromagnetic Preparedness for Advanced Combat deputy director and escort for Georgious and his family, said he was excited to make Kalevrosoglou’s wish a reality.
“I certainly don’t look at this as work,” he said. “It is fulfilling anytime you can do something in order to make another person’s wish come true.”
Kalevrosoglou and his family concluded their visit to Nellis with a tour of the Threat Training Facility and a visit to the Airfield Control Tower where they had a bird’s-eye view of two F-22 Raptors taking off.
“It was more than I could have imagined,” said Kalevrosoglou. “This trip has made me very happy. Hopefully next time I visit I’ll be able to fly in a jet,” he added with a smile.