Young Girls Grateful to “Angels in Orange” After Being Saved by Mercy Flight Crew

April 26, 2019

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

Mercy Flight saves lives.

We know that first hand. They saved my daughter’s life. But of course, hers isn’t the only story to tell. There are countless stories of survival.

Here is a very special one:


The only part of her life-changing car ride that 7-year- old Madison “Maddy” Phillips remembers is playing an alphabet game with her 6-year- old friend Tori Gibbs, Tori’s brother Ricky, and Tori’s grandmother Donna. In the game, the first person to locate and name an item beginning with a given letter wins. Then, the girls’ memories are blank. The lives of Maddy and Tori and their mothers—Candice Wells and Stephanie Gibbs—were forever changed that late Thursday afternoon, July 1, 2010.

Maddy and Tori were en route to a soccer Bible camp when their car was struck by an oncoming semi-truck. Although the girls remember nothing of the accident, their mothers “remember it like it was yesterday.” Tori’s grandmother, the driver, died tragically at the scene; the girls sustained near-fatal injuries; Ricky was in stable condition, suffering from only a concussion, as he was furthest away from the impact.

Newstead Fire Company responded to the scene immediately, and knew right away that they had to contact Mercy Flight. After their timely call for assistance, Mercy Flight was dispatched to the scene, originally thinking they’d airlift only Tori. Her injuries appeared the worst and she was unconscious. But, when a screaming Maddy suddenly went limp, Mercy Flight personnel decided they’d better transport both girls to Women and Children’s Hospital right away.

At Children’s, Maddy was diagnosed with a rare basal skull fracture that tears brain membranes. Tori suffered an open head injury, multiple facial fractures and lacerations, and was later found to have sustained fractures to her hip, pelvis, and coccyx. After an extended stay at the hospital, Madison’s eighth birthday came five days after she was discharged, so her family describes that birthday as a “miracle”.

Because the girls’ injuries were so severe, they both required continuing medical care. Madison later returned to the hospital, where doctors performed a craniotomy to relieve internal pressure on the brain. As a result of Tori’s open head injury, she contracted bacterial meningitis and was confined to a wheelchair for six weeks.

But today, Maddy and Tori are happy to have returned to normal activities, including school, dance, playing outside, and swimming. Their mothers are extremely grateful to Mercy Flight for saving the girls’ lives and refer to the first responders as, “Our angels in orange.”

Mercy Flight saves lives – but they can’t do it alone. Their fundraising efforts are crucial. That’s where the community comes in!

Mercy Flight is hosting The Bash in June – so get ready for some big fun for a great cause.

Dress up in your best camo gear and get ready to party with a purpose at Buffalo Riverworks on Friday, June 7th.

The celebration will include drink packages and unlimited bites to eat, entertainment by NERDS GONE WILD in WNY, DJ Dovey spinning all night, a silent auction, 50/50 raffle, the chance to win a cruise for two, a spectacular fireworks show by Skylighters of New York and so much more!

This 20-year Buffalo tradition benefits Mercy Flight’s mission of emergency air medevac and ground ambulance transport and care. Every day, Mercy Flight is saving lives, both in the air and on the ground, with their helicopter fleet, ambulance operations and a Learjet, transporting patients who are critically ill or injured…WHEN MINUTES MATTER.

Tickets are limited and will sell out.

Your $75 admission ticket includes two drink tickets, unlimited food stations, free parking and all the entertainment.

Tickets can be found at or by heading to the Facebook event site at

Totally Buffalo is proud to be a Chinook Sponsor for the event and we will have much more on Mercy Flight and their mission in the coming days and weeks!!


About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






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