Mom, medically fragile daughter reunited with family in Portland

Community and AMR help move fragile woman

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A woman from Buffalo, N.Y., and her medically fragile daughter have arrived in Portland to begin a new chapter of their lives.

It happened after her community in New York and the ambulance company AMR came together to help. Moments after the jet ambulance rolled to a stop at Portland International Airport, Francesca Kurnik stepped out and said thank you.

“I have incredible gratitude to be here. And to be able to do this. To have my dream come true,” she said.

It seemed a distant dream at times. Her daughter Sarah, who is 43 years old, has cerebral palsy and a seizure disorder. Driving her across the country in an RV or flying commercial were deemed too dangerous.

But Francesca dreamed of moving to Oregon with Sarah to join her other daughter Erin.

When the community heard Sarah's story, they raised enough money through a GoFundMe account to send her to Portland via air ambulance.

“It’s amazing how many facets of the community have to come together to make this happen. And I couldn't have done it on my own accord,” said Francesca.

AMR executives joined in too, donating experts and equipment for much of the move on both coasts. Paramedic Ben Schwartzman waited in Portland.

“I think it shows that there’s a lot of good will here. You know, obviously we’re a for profit company for the most part. But every once in a while, we have the opportunity to go do something nice for other people like I think all of us would want our friends or families to do,” Schwartzman said.

Erin Kurnick felt the impact as she prepared to see her mom and sister in Portland.

“I think that's awesome. It’s really moving. It shows that we all are here and we support each other,” she said.

By Tuesday night, the family had reunited, thanks to strangers who cared enough to help.

Thinking about all that went into the day moved Francesca to the edge of tears at the airport.

“I’m overwhelmed,” she said blinking back tears.”It’s actually very joyful."


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