A Story You Don't Know
I've written before about the incredible challenges my good friend Joffy Aulx-Gao faces each and every day. He is an inspiration to not only those of us who fly with him every day in A Band Apart and Stay Frosty, but to me personally. And so it was that late last Fall when he told me he wanted to go to Fanfest, I decided to do whatever I could to make that happen for him. At the time, I had no concept of just how much of a challenge it would turn out to be.
It is impossible to appreciate the true challenges involved until you know more about his condition. When I started down this road even I had a lot to learn, even after having written that linked post above. The reality is often tremendously different than you can even imagine. One of the most obvious challenges is geographic. I'm way over here in the US and he is way over there in Europe. In this day and age that isn't normally the problem that it used to be, but when it comes down to helping someone, it remains extremely challenging. You can't just show up at his house and have a chat. Or see for yourself what is involved. It makes a difference.
We knew such a trip would be expensive. All of us in ABA talked about setting up a crowd-funding effort to help cover the costs. A fan of this blog stepped up and volunteered to help cover a significant portion of the those costs, which was (and is) incredibly generous. My Wife got involved and started researching resources in Iceland, hotels, rentals, etc. As we went along we were all learning more about how difficult this was going to be.
Joffy can't just sit down in an airplane seat like you and me. Because of the physical problems he faces he can only sit normally for short periods of time. This means that he would have to travel in a hospital bed on the plane. Which means x number of seats would need to be removed to accommodate him. All safely secured. And not just him, but five other people as well. Joffy's entourage. Parents, Nurses, and caregivers. Oh, and he'd need to have electrical power. And his wheelchair would need stowed. And then where does he stay while in Iceland? Does Iceland even have special vans? We'd have to let the local Hospital know. And his caregivers need permission to leave the country. Everyone needs passports. As you can start to see, the list of challenges continues to grow.
Meanwhile we continue to explore options. We send emails out to Icelandair, WOW Air, and look into Ferries, special planes, etc. Making contact is difficult at first. Slowly our information starts to add up and options can begin to be removed or additional information is needed. The process is slow. And then, finally, several things start to happen at once.
And here I want to give a special shout-out to CCP Guard and CCP Falcon. They were both incredibly helpful and understanding, working with us to try and make this happen. Over the last few weeks I know several people at CCP and at Icelandair were working hard to see if this was something that could be done. Icelandair was willing to work with us and cover some of the cost. As was CCP. Things were really starting to feel like they would happen.
And now they can't.
Despite the best efforts of everyone involved we've simply passed the time when it would be possible. There isn't enough time now to get the proper permissions for his entourage to leave the country. Not to mention that every hotel room with the ability to accommodate him is disappearing as we get closer to Fanfest. And other factors. This past weekend was the deadline for confirmation. And we didn't get it in time.
We learned a tremendous amount. And now we have established contacts. And I really believe next year we will be in a much better starting position to make this happen. I hope so. Nothing would make me happier then to help my good friend get to Fanfest.
Very sincere thanks to everyone involved. We won't give up and we'll try again next year.
Now we just have to get Joffy elected to the CSM.