JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A sailor based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville whose wife is battling nightmare health problems recently had his wish granted by an organization that works to make the lives of military members a little easier.
Wish for Our Heroes, which has a Florida chapter based in Ponte Vedra Beach, is helping sailor Chris Radloff and his wife with their mounting medical bills.
Wish for Our Heroes works to give back to the people who give so much for our country. One of those people is Radloff, an E6 at NAS Jacksonville, who recently moved to town with his wife, Kristen, so she could receive treatment at Mayo Clinic.
Kristen has had a nightmare battle with health problems the last three years, and the couple spent tens of thousands of dollars traveling to and from the Rochester, Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, before moving to Jacksonville.
"Multiple plane tickets, hotel, room and board, all that kind of stuff really racked up our debt," Chris said. "We had to go to family for loans, credit cards. (We) took (money) out of my retirement."
Now, Kristen needs another pancreas donation. She received one donation last month, but because of complications that pancreas had to be removed. She was released from the hospital Tuesday.
"She's got to recover and try again," Chris said. "All things considered her spirits are well. She's a lot stronger than I am. I can't believe how she's handled all this. It's definitely the hardest situation I've ever seen."
Because of her health problems, Kristen is unable to work, and the debt continued to mount for the couple. So Chris applied to Wish for Our Heroes, and his wish for financial assistance is being granted.
"We really don't have any expectations," Chris said. "Anything would be a blessing just to help us get caught up and keep from going further into debt."
Joe Pierce of Wish for Our Heroes said the group works only with active-duty military members and their families.
"Our resources, which is strictly donations, allow us to touch any and all kinds of needs," Pierce said. "We have emergencies, as well as on-going needs. Chris is an on-going need."
Pierce said Wish for Our Heroes doesn't give out cash but works with other agencies to make donations and needed services happen. He said emergency wishes can usually be handled on the spot and range from hundreds of dollars to as much as $1,500.
Pierce said $7,000 will be granted from the organization to help Chris and Kristen begin getting back on track, and the organization will also provide assistance helping them get their bills consolidated through non-profit agencies to make their debts manageable again.
"His need is going to go for a long time, and we still have a long way to go," Pierce said.
Another military family that was having twins, Pierce said, just couldn't afford to finish the nursery, so Wish for Our Heroes helped with bedding and other things. Each case is different.
To learn more about how to request a wish from Wish for Our Heros or how you can donate to help grant a wish, go to https://wishforourheroes.org/florida.