A black helicopter landed on the property west of Foxwood Springs and south of Harold Estates. Cars stopped and neighbors stepped outside to see what was going on. Is it a VIP? A covert mission?
It was certainly a mission of sorts, and the client was by all means a VIP.
The client: Deyvion Plunkett. The mission: Scope out Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums.
This was not Deyvion’s first helicopter ride.
At a young age, he had gone through more trauma than most people will experience in their lifetime. Extraordinary feats of strength and courage got him to this moment.
Deyvion’s incredible journey begins when he was just an infant. The apartment complex he lived in burned down after a lit candle had fallen into his bassinet. Miraculously, he got out alive and was flown to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Cincinnati before arriving at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
After a six-month stay in hospitals, Deyvion was placed into his first foster home. He would spend nearly six years floating from one foster home to another before finding his way to Raymore resident Beth Plunkett’s home. Beth remained his foster mom for only a year and a half.
Deyvion had spent 2,545 days of his life in foster care and undergone 15 surgeries for his burn injuries before Beth adopted him on June 24, 2020.
“Adoption day was very special, not just because he was going to have a forever family that love him so much, but it was also a day of reflection and looking back and appreciating those heroes that saved his life that day,” Plunkett said told The Raymore Journal. “They never gave up on him, and through the years, they never forgot about him.”
On the morning of Deyvion’s adoption, the South Metro Fire Department stopped by his house for a special delivery. The fire department presented Deyvion with a firefighter helmet with his name on it. Also emblazoned on the helmet was the date the firefighters rescued him.
Equipped with a custom-made helmet, Deyvion and Beth hitched a ride to the courthouse on the fire truck. Mother and son were escorted into the building by firefighters.
About two years ago, the Plunketts met John O’Leary. According to Beth, O’Leary “wanted to do life with us – be part of Deyvion’s village.” He would soon become family.
At first, Beth did not know what to make of O’Leary. She figured he would just reach out to her and Deyvion a few times. Not quite.
So far, O’Leary and his family have visited Deyvion twice, sent him birthday gifts/cards, and sent him to Great Wolf Lodge for a little fun. That is in addition to reaching out to the Plunketts every week for the past two years.
“They’ve truly taught us what doing life with us meant and it’s been such a blessing that they are part of Deyvion’s village,” Beth said.
On Saturday, March 13, O’Leary made a surprise visit to the Pucketts’. He came bearing gifts: Doughnuts and a helicopter.
It was exactly what Deyvion, now a third grader at Raymore Elementary School, and Beth needed.
During his most recent medical procedure, surgeons implanted a tissue expander under Deyvion’s scalp where there was a port under the skin. Beth had to learn how to inject a needle into the port to fill the balloon with saline. She had to fill the balloon once a week for about four months.
“It was difficult at times, but Deyvion was always very brave,” Beth said. “Many times, (Deyvion) would help out by pushing down the syringes.”
Surgeons removed the expander on Feb. 25.
“Deyvion is so excited that he will have a full head of hair now, and he keeps coming up with all these new hairstyles he wants to try,” Beth said.
On Sunday, Deyvion, Beth and Zachary Gaynor, Deyvion’s best friend, headed to the helicopter landing zone on the property behind the Firestone and Go Car Wash on 58 Highway. They were greeted by a black helicopter piloted by Ryan Mendon of Kansas City-based Skybound Helicopters. Mendon flew Deyvion, Beth and Zachary over Kansas City including the sports complex, downtown and the Plaza.
With his fearless requests of some stunt piloting unable to be granted, Deyvion is still eager to hop in a helicopter again.
“Everything looks tiny,” Deyvion said of the view.
O’Leary had to hit the road on Sunday, so he was unable to attend the helicopter ride. He doesn’t need to be there to know how Deyvion is feeling.
When he was 9 years old, 100% of O’Leary’s body was burned. He attributes his miraculous recovery to all the people who stepped up to support him and his family.
O’Leary has spent most of his adult life telling the world about his story and how people came to support him. His mission is to inspire others to do the same.
Perhaps one of the tiny cars Deyvion saw from that helicopter seat was O’Leary, both with the same, wide smile.
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