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Teen pilot flies PPE to Barbour

The Inter-Mountain photos by Edgar Kelley T.J. Kim stands in front of the plane he flew into Philippi-Barbour County Regional Airport on Tuesday. Kim, a 16-year-old from McLean, Virginia, delivered more than 5,000 PPEs to be used at Broaddus Hospital.

PHILIPPI — A Virginia teenager who has been honored at the White House for providing supplies to hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic personally flew in boxes of personal protective equipment for Broaddus Hospital on Tuesday.

The efforts of T.J. Kim, a 16-year old from McLean, Virginia, to help others in a time of need have made him a hero to people around the country.

With trips to the classroom limited and all extracurricular activities put on hold, Kim took it upon himself to find something else to do with his free time and created Supplies Over the Skies, a service through which he delivers PPE supplies to small rural hospitals in West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia.

And he isn’t doing it by car, truck or van, but in an airplane which he pilots. Kim had been taking flight lessons when the pandemic began and, still needing hours to complete his training, he decided taking to the air to help hospitals in need of supplies was a win-win situation.

“Through these missions I’m able to build time that I need as a pilot, so it works out really great because I get to deliver supplies and work on my training at the same time,” Kim told The Inter-Mountain Tuesday after landing at Philippi-Barbour County Regional Airport. “Seeing how grateful all the hospital workers are is really what makes it worth it.”

Submitted photo The boxes of PPE were welcomed by Broaddus Hospital’s Purchasing Coordinator Charity Kittle and Clinical Coordinator David Strait.

Kim said the PPE supplies he flew in Tuesday for Broaddus Hospital was the biggest amount he has delivered to date.

“We wanted to fly in today and deliver some PPE and ventilator supplies to this hospital,” said Kim, who flew in from Leesburg, Virginia with his instructor. “We reached out to a bunch of different hospitals and they (Broaddus Hospital) let us know that they were in need of supplies. So we gathered everything together and sourced locally in my community and delivered a little over 5,000 PPEs.”

David Strait, Broaddus Hospital’s clinical coordinator and community liaison, said the supplies couldn’t have touched down at a better time.

“We received over 5,000 pieces of personal protective equipment that were donated to the hospital through Operation SOS and this young man’s (Kim) valiant effort,” Strait said. “It couldn’t have come at a better time with our COVID numbers being higher than ever right now in Barbour County. Without these PPEs we couldn’t do our job and what he (Kim) delivered to us today gives us six weeks or longer that we can care for patients.”

Since his first mission in April, Kim has delivered more than 60,000 personal protective equipment supplies to hospitals in need.

He received a presidential award from President Donald Trump in a White House ceremony in the spring.

“We are very grateful for everything that was delivered to us today,” Strait said. “For T.J.’s father to call me out of the blue and say ‘we want to bring you some PPEs’ was amazing. We were actually wondering where we were going to get the stuff to take care of the patients, and here it is, so God still answers prayers.”

Kim said he intends to make another flight to West Virginia next week. His future plans include joining the Naval Academy after graduating from high school.

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