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Terminally ill Ohio man gets wish with helicopter ride

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‘When you’re down to your last moments … those things that can bring you a little bit of joy … you really need those moments,’ Nathaniel Herb said.

TOLEDO, Ohio — If you could have your heart’s desire, what would it be? More money, a nice car, maybe to live longer? What if you were 38 years old and dying? That’s Nathaniel Herb’s story. His wish was to go for a helicopter ride and on May 27, Nate got his heart’s desire with a ride on ProMedica Air.

“We are here taking a flight on a helicopter through hospice. It’s always something I wanted to do. I worked at the hospital in Fremont for a while I got to help them when they would come in and things and just always thought it was a really cool looking thing to do and always was intrigued by helicopters and kind of flying and never really got the chance in life to do that,” Herb said. “My career path took me someplace else and I just thought it would be a fun thing to do so I always wanted to.”

Nate’s mom, Deb Herb, said being able to take the flight brings things full circle for her son. 

“Kind of for me I think it’s important for Nate to go up in the helicopter because as young kids they were able to see it routinely. We only live a few blocks from the hospital and so it was not uncommon for the boys to be running out in the front yard even in the middle of winter watching it land and that has just stayed with them for 30 some years now so,” Deb said. “Nathan had worked at the hospital and a lot of hands-on with Life Flight and it just kind of ties it all together as these final days approach.” 

Nate’s brother, Ryan, agreed with his mom’s assessment on how much helicopters meant to the siblings. 

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“Definitely goosebumps and honestly (I’m) a little teary-eyed. Growing up we always had a love for helicopters and everything and we’d always go up to the hospital, watch it take off and so the fact he’s getting his ride in the helicopter means a lot,” Ryan said. 

Nate expressed the joy of what the flight meant to him, in his final days. 

“They asked where I wanted to go so along the lake a little bit, by the islands around Cedar Point and flew around there. Oh yeah it was better definitely for sure…definitely a whole different feel, the landing felt different and it was neat to experience the whole thing of what a flight is like I guess and they answered lots of questions about the aircraft,” he said. 

“It means a lot because when you’re down to your last moments, (the) last parts of your life kind of thing, those things that can bring you a little bit of joy you really need those moments so it’s always good to take advantage of those so I’m glad I got to do that and people were gracious enough to make that happen so…I’m really glad, it was really fun and I’m glad I did it.” 

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