Today we’d like to introduce you to Bill & Sharon Antonucci.
Hi Bill & Sharon, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have been a pilot for 47 years. Like most pilots, I was always looking for a reason to fly my plane. Steve, a Southwest Captain, and I were having dinner one evening, and the subject of disabled children came up. We realized that many of them never get a chance to fly or even have a fun-filled day because their conditions limit them. We wanted to create an experience that would expose them to the wonders of flight in a non-threatening and fun environment. We got together with a few friends and colleagues and planned the first “Sky Kids Fly Day.”
The Fall of 2011 brought us success by getting a Public Charity recognition from the IRS and a few very generous donors and supporters. On April 14, 2012, with the generosity of Lux Air Jet Centers and the Goodyear Airport, we had our first Sky Kids Fly Day event.
We had 60 families come to our first event. Our team and twenty big-hearted pilots flew 62 Special Needs children with their planes. Our ground volunteers entertained the children on the ground with face painters, clowns, therapy dogs, crafts and other activities, and police and fire department displays provided by the City of Goodyear and a barbecue to feed as many as six hundred wonderful families and volunteers.
We continued our annual event for the next two years when people in Scottsdale heard what we do. We were invited to plan an event at the Scottsdale airport. On November 8, 2014, we had our first Scottsdale event and continued with that event annually with the generosity of Ross Aviation and the Scottsdale Airport.
In 2019 we were invited to organize an event in Chino, California. On September 14, 2019, we had our first Annual Fly Day Event with the generous support of Threshold Aviation and the Chino Municipal Airport.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
My wife Sharon and I started Sky Kids with just a few friends, a few private pilots with their planes, and a lot of hard work. We partnered with Hope Kids, a support organization that finds resources and entertainment for children with life-threatening infirmities or disabilities to reach the participants. We approached local vendors to request donations for food and drinks. We now enjoy the participation of many charitable pilots, food vendors, and companies that supply us with safety, crowd control, and hygiene equipment. Families come from around the Valley and as far away as Page, AZ, Tucson, AZ, and Las Vegas, NV, to enjoy a day of fun and education. They learn about us from several support organizations such as the Children’s Cancer Network, Children’s Hospital, Miracle League, Ryan House, and many others.
As people learn of us, we grow in numbers of families who want to participate and volunteers who want to help. Cadets from the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the United States Air Force Civil Air Patrol help with everything we need on the ground. We are continuing to work to expand. We love what we do and can’t wait to see the smiling faces that change children’s lives.
- No charge to anyone. Everyone is a volunteer.
- Website: www.skykidsusa.org
- Instagram: Sky.Kids.CA
- Facebook: @SkyKidsAZ
- Twitter: SkyKidsFly
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zCMkyglB9I&feature=youtu.be
All of these pictures are the property of Sky Kids, Incorporated