Our story begins with our founder of Project Broken Wings, Mike Kearney.
As a young boy, Mike was exposed to the wonderful world of aviation by his father Joseph – who would on Sunday afternoons gather his small family in the family car and venture out to then Friendship Airport (now Thurgood Marshall Baltimore-Washington Int'l Airport) to “watch planes”. As Mike would later recall “…there was an observation pier that (to a small child) seemed to go out into the middle of the airfield. There were binoculars that you could put a quarter in and instantly be transported right up to the airplanes. I would always imagine being one of the workers on the ground – and at that time never really thought about being the pilot who flew the airplanes. Those are some the best memories of my family spending time together”. These occasional after Sunday dinner excursions would galvanize a love for aviation that would last Mike’s entire life.
While in his sophomore year in high school, Mike early enlisted into a “Delayed Entry Program” for the United States Marine Corps. Originally intending to pursue a career as an Architect – it was by a chance timing fluke that Mike chose the aviation specialty of an Aircraft Navigation Communications Systems Specialist. Mike cheerfully remembers “…the only reason I ended up choosing Avionics (Aviation Electronics) was because I wanted the summer off to goofe off before going to boot camp – and becoming an Architect would have meant that I would have had to leave for boot camp right after high school graduation…” That chance decision would propel Mike into a lifelong love affair and career in aviation.
After completing four years of exemplary service to the nation, Mike was honorably discharged from the USMC to pursue a civilian career. Armed with the discipline and determination he gained from the Corps, Mike sought out to achieve excellence in everything he did. As an Avionics Technician for (then) Baltimore Avionics Company (BWI) – Mike worked under the tutelage of two other former Marines where he honed his talents and ability to install sophisticated Avionics systems in General Aviation (private) type airplanes. It was at Baltimore Avionics where combined with his Uncle Ed’s constant admonishment to “get your ticket” and Baltimore Avionics owner Tom Turnbull’s advice to “work on your pilots license” that Mike learned to fly the very planes he would work on by day. It would be Mike's wife Myra who would later provide the final encouragement and first few flight lessons toward Mike becoming a pilot.
There are three distinct occurrences in Mike’s life that would ultimately lead him to found Project Broken Wings. The first came from a chance meeting with an extended family member that Mike had never met. During an introduction by a cousin to a woman named Linda – Mike remembers “…as we shook hands she grabbed my hand with both of her hands. She looked me square in the eyes and asked if I’d heard my calling? After replying, excuse me? She went on to say “somehow I feel as if you have been called to preach”. Well, quite honestly at the time, the idea was so far removed from my lifestyle that I literally broke out into laughter and replied “Nah, I haven’t got that call yet!”. But that encounter never ever left me to this day”.
The next would come many years later where Mike would receive a message that he felt was clearly for him. During an ordinary church service at Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro then Senior Pastor Bishop George Brooks delivered an extensive monologue prior to his sermon proclaiming that “when God calls you to preach, He will deliver you a pulpit”. This proclamation struck Mike like a lightning bolt. “What I felt was that there was indeed a calling on my life to minister to people in a certain way, but I just hadn’t figured it out yet. What I heard Bishop Brooks say that day was that I didn’t have to try and figure out the when and how – God would give me the pieces of the puzzle to put together and one day (with all the pieces) the picture will come into focus." Mike would later remember.
The last occurrence that would make it crystal clear what Mike felt his calling was came as another chance encounter some twenty five years after the first. While serving as a board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater High Point, each member was asked to visit the clubs to experience “the feeling” of the clubs. While visiting one of the clubs, a little girl walked up to Mike and innocently and gently asked “would you like to play a game of cards?” Mike couldn’t resist. As he would recall, “… as we played some game that I thought she had actually made up I couldn’t help but feel a certain spirit moving within me. What came to me was that all this little girl really wanted was for someone to very simply spend time with her – to show her that someone really cared. It nearly brought me to tears. I spent about forty five minutes with her playing her game. At times I think she would actually let me win. But the thing I’ll never forget was her laugh - it still haunts me to this very day.”
Mike now believed that God had delivered enough “signs” and was probably growing impatient.
After experiencing a “near death experience” in 2016 Mike was determined to develop his ministry and fulfill his calling – to spend the rest of his life helping those less fortunate – especially children and people who may feel left behind, abandoned, broken.
Project Broken Wings was founded on one simple premise – but stems from a lifetime of momentum, that EVERY child deserves the opportunity to FLY and SOAR in Life. Our dedicated team of staff, volunteers and supporters all share this belief. As a natural born leader subscribing to the teachings of the US Marines of “No Man Left Behind”- Mike and the rest of us at Project Broken Wings have correlated that over to “No Child Left Behind”.
Today, the story continues...
To support our efforts please see our needs list and/or make your charitable donation below or email firstname.lastname@example.org to see how you can help. ~Thank you