ST. LOUIS – Whether you're coming from the east or the west, some flights change your whole direction.
Arriving in St. Louis is nothing new for 6-year-old Max Redfern and his mom. They've made the trip from Portland, Oregon, seven times in the last year.
That's 2,000 miles each way which isn't so bad when you consider how far Max has come.
The Redfern's adopted him from China.
"He was in an orphanage with like 1,000 kids in each building and there were three buildings," his mom Jenne Redfern said.
And like many of the other kids in the orphanage, Max had special needs including clubfoot, an abnormality where the foot is twisted out of position.
"At night he would lay in bed crying and grabbing his feet and you'd have to give him medicine," Redfern said.
Even when he was smiling which is something Max does a lot, mom kept thinking about the tears. So she made an appointment for him to see one of the top specialists in the country.
"I want the best for my kids whatever it is and I will do whatever it takes to get that for them," she said.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Dobbs of St. Louis Children's Hospital thought he could help.
"The goal with our treatment method," he told us, "is stretching the foot out very gradually with casting and then at the very end of that casting procedure is to do a small surgery to finish the correction."
Insurance would cover the treatment but not the transportation and all that travel from Portland to St. Louis was something the Redferns could not afford. That's when they landed on an organization called Miracle Flights.
"So our portion is making sure the families can get to the treatment and it's not just for that initial consultation but it's for all of the treatment and the follow-up care," explained Christina Moon of Miracle Flights.
Since it started, Miracle Flights has flown more than 115,000 families in need of distant medical care.
In recent years, the nonprofit had come under fire in the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper for questionable spending practices. CEO Mark Brown who took over about two years ago promised more transparency.
The journey was a difficult one but with every frequent flier mile, Max was getting closer to his destination.
"So he's had to learn to walk three times," his mom said.
But when you're not worried about getting bills, the focus is on getting better.
Max's favorite word now is "go!" He may just weigh 25 pounds, but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in energy. And he doesn't mind these journeys.
"What's the best thing about flying?" we asked. "It's cool!" he said enthusiastically.
Max won't have to have to make another trip to St. Louis for six months. He's gone from painful steps to a giant leap.
"His prognosis is fantastic," Dr. Dobbs said. "He's going to lead a normal life, he's got feet where he will wear normal shoes, he's going to play sports and participate like any other child would ever do."
For one family, airline tickets were the lucky ticket.
"It's huge. We couldn't have done this without Miracle Flights and I am forever grateful," Redfern said.
And now a young boy appears ready to take flight.
"It's changed his life," his mom said.