LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - All week, NewsChannel 11 is introducing you to local heroes who the Red Cross will honor at their Champions Breakfast on Friday, September 11th. The impact of one of those heroes travels across the globe.
Local surgeon, Dr. John Thomas, started Operation Hope about 10 years ago. Since then he's been able to improve the lives of people on the South Plains as well as in Africa and Iraq. "He sees the need, and he does everything he can to make it better for everybody. If it's within reach, he'll try to find the answer for that person," said Operation Hope Executive Director Sandi Turner.
Thomas can't pinpoint when he started Operation Hope, but it was born of the desire to fill a need. "I just felt like I was blessed, and it was my duty to give back because this country's given so much to me," said Thomas.
For the past 10 years, Thomas has worked to give medical and educational opportunities to those on the South Plains. "One of the things we do locally is our Operation Hope Summer Institute where we expose kids who are interested in medicine to the medical field," said Thomas.
"Recently he headed up a surgery for a young lady that didn't have the financial means, and so he kind of called around and with the help of UMC and physicians, they worked together to provide this surgery for this young lady and made it happen," said Turner of another project Thomas took on.
However, Thomas says his greatest work happens when he leaves home to bring medical care to people in Iraq and Africa. "Provide medical services and we also take community people to work in the orphanages and provide, like in the soccer tournament in Malawi, Africa. We were there, and we were able to empower by digging water wells," he said.
Thomas says he gets as much out of these trips as the people he helps. "When you go back to a village in Malawi, Africa you see the water hole that you dug, that somebody from America donated money for. Now they have less Typhoid and less other water born diseases. You're making an impact, and I'm just humbled that I'm privileged enough to be where I am," said Thomas.
Dr. Thomas is currently planning trips to Africa and Iraq during the Summer and Spring of 2010.
Operation Hope will also host a F.A.M.I.N.E. banquet on September 17th at 6 p.m. at Frazier Pavilion on the Texas Tech Campus. F.A.M.I.N.E. stands for "Feed A Million In Need Everywhere." Tickets are $40 and proceeds will go to help feed villages in Malawi, Africa.
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2009 Red Cross Champions