Williams-Grand Canyon News
Members of the Tusayan American Legion commemorate Cyndy Bourgetís flight over the Canyon. Standing left to right are Patrick Shields, Shaun Shields, Danny Hernandez and Tim Stock.
TUSAYAN, Ariz. - Thousands of beautiful memories are created each day at the Grand Canyon, but recently Cathy Bourget made one memory, as lasting as the Canyon itself, when she saw the natural wonder from the sky.
Flying over the Grand Canyon wouldn't seem like an extraordinary feat to some, but for paraplegic Bourget, climbing into a helicopter required special assistance. Assistance that, because of insurance reasons, air tour operators weren't able to provide.
After meeting Bourget and discussing her situation, Don Matazuk, concierge at Canyon Plaza Resort, wanted to help.
"She came up in a wheelchair, and we were talking about the Grand Canyon," he said. "I saw she was paralyzed and that she very much wanted to do a flight over the Canyon. So I called Papillion and they said that they couldn't help her out because she needed someone to hold her up and they have insurance issues."
Matazuk said even though Bourget could drive a car alone, climbing up into a helicopter was a different story. After trying all three air tour companies in the area with no success, he had an idea.
"I kept thinking about it, we talked about it and she said she was part of a Disability Veterans Association from Austin, Texas," he said, and decided to make a phone call to the American Legion in hopes they could help Bourget.
"Sure enough, Shaun Shields, a local highway patrolman, said he could help," he said.
Members of the American Legion were able to help Bourget up into the aircraft and turned her trip around, a success story for all parties involved.
"Many of our guests look at the visit to the Grand Canyon as a lifetime dream and we are particularly happy when we can help someone like Cathy make this dream come true," Ann Wren, general manager of the Canyon Plaza Resort, said.
Grand Canyon Helicopters did not charge Bourget for the flight, and waved the usual fee.