Flying High at the FedEx St. Jude Classic
June 6, 2012
By Doug Milne, PGA TOUR
At just seven months old, fluid had collected on McKaylee Borklund’s brain. Just before the surgery to insert a shunt into her head to drain the fluid, an MRI revealed a brain tumor. The surgery was cancelled.
In the ensuing months, the news got worse, not better. A biopsy confirmed everyone’s greatest fears. McKaylee was living with a growing, malignant anaplastic astrocytoma.
But then, as her first birthday neared, the news improved. The Borklund family received a referral to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It was there where 15 months of chemotherapy stabilized the tumor. And now, just two days shy of her fifth birthday, McKaylee is living just like all of her pre-kindergarten counterparts. There is no bad news on the horizon. McKaylee is now flying high -literally.
To celebrate the story of success, FedEx dedicated its first-ever Cessna Caravan jet to the birthday girl Wednesday at the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
With her name inscribed on the side of the bird, family, friends, members of the media, FedEx and St. Jude staff gathered just off the 18th fairway at the TPC Southwind to witness history.
“This is a day of firsts,” said Bill West, V.P. of Supplemental Air, FedEx. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a (FedEx) plane on site, and the first time we’ve ever named a feeder plane after a patient.”
Among those on-hand to embrace the occasion was McKaylee’s father, Stephen, a station manager for FedEx in Irondale, AL.
“Fedex has been simply awesome. They’ve gone above and beyond,” said Stephen. “It didn’t matter what my family needed, from food to emotional support, they were there. It’s just been phenomenal.”
“FedEx made things so easy for us,” said McKaylee’s mother, Jessica. “With my husband working out of town, they insisted on him being able to spend a lot of time at home with the family when things were tough. That support just made life so much easier.
When FedEx made the announcement of the named plane, the Borklund’s were beside themselves. “We were shocked when we found out they had chosen her,” Jessica said. “After all FedEx had already done for us, we just couldn’t believe it. We had been so blessed with everything up to that point, that it was just hard to believe.”
The star of the show herself wasn’t without jubilation, either. “When McKaylee found out about the plane being named after her, she went nuts,” laughed Jessica. “She just jumped up and down, yelling ‘I’m gonna be famous! I’m gonna be famous!’”
“Today, McKaylee is perfect,” her mother said. “She’s not on any more medication, no more treatments. She loves to play. She loves being active, and she especially loves picking on her brother.”
As well she should be. After all, when she hits that major milestone of five Friday, how many others that age can say they’ve already got their wings?
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