Giving in memory of her son
Teri Phelps’s son Coleby Curnow Phelps had really wanted to fly with Hope Air as a volunteer pilot - he was driven to help patients in financial need reach medical care far from home. But he never got the chance. In July 2016, Coleby Phelps was killed in a car accident at the age of 26.
In memory of her son, Teri Phelps donated to help even more patients reach care. Her donation allowed the first Give Hope Wings Expedition in 2018 to exceed its $500,000 fundraising goal and provide more than 2,000 medical flights. In her own words, this is her story.
By Teri Phelps
Coleby always wanted to be a pilot from the day he could talk. He had a toy helicopter when he was a young child. By the age of 16, he had his fixed wing license before he even had a full license to drive a car. He paid for it himself with birthday and Christmas money. He made this happen himself – we didn’t give this to him and he tried flight simulators, inquired about pilot positions and started training by the age of 13.
My handprints are probably still on the chain-link fence where I watched him. I remember holding so tight to that fence that my knuckles were white when I watched him make solo flights as a 15-year-old kid. Then at the age of 17 he said; “Now the ultimate goal, I am going to be a helicopter pilot.” He found an instructor and earned his helicopter license by the age of 18. He was the type of person that if he wanted something, he researched it, figured out how to do it and he did it.
Coleby joined the Penticton Flying Club and eventually became the president. He was very involved. He did COPA for Kids, an event to get young people interested in flying.
He also wanted to help other people like the volunteer pilots at Hope Air, but he didn’t live long enough to help in that way.
It is so cool what these volunteer pilots do. I remember Coleby talking about how he wanted to do this too. When Coleby’s sister Andrea was born, she had to be taken by emergency medevac to Vancouver, back then Hope Air didn’t exist, you had to make your own way to be with your child. Hope Air would have made things so much easier. It would have been so much less stressful.
Helping other people in these kinds of situations just made so much sense and I am extremely happy I made the donation in Coleby’s name.
Coleby loved life. He was a giving, caring person who always stuck up for the underdog - and he was funny as hell. He always made you laugh. He was a great person and I miss him horribly. He was always willing to help people, always volunteering. Through supporting these pilots on their expeditions to raise money to help patients, Coleby continues to help.
You can support patients who must get to medical care through the Give Hope Wings Campaign page set up in Coleby’s memory here