Helicopter landing pad to be built in memory of 20-year-old

Published 9:37 am Friday, July 9, 2010

BRANCHVILLE—When Joshua Woods lost his grandmother to kidney cancer, he planned to develop in her memory a landing pad in Branchville for emergency medical helicopters.

Woods never completed the project. That’s because the 20-year-old died on Jan. 10 from a brain tumor.

In hopes of finishing what Woods started, his parents have taken over the task. They recently received a $1,000 donation to build the landing pad, which will be in memory of their oldest son.

“We knew this was something important to him for the surrounding community,” Woods’ mother, Barbara, said Thursday. “We’ve had several calls where people were flown from cornfields. He wanted to do it for his grandmother, but it fell by the wayside (when he got sick).”

At age 15, Joshua Woods joined Branchville Volunteer Fire Department. After his grandmother, Betty Hatcher, died in 2006, he suggested developing the landing zone on his parents’ property on Broad Street, which is within sight of the fire department.

During his junior year at Southampton High School, the then 17-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Rounds of chemotherapy and radiation weren’t enough to save Joshua Woods, who earlier this year passed away at his home.

The fire department favors the project, said Barbara Woods. She and her husband, Matthew, hope to complete it with donations and at no cost to the fire department.

Joshua Woods’ uncle, Peter of Baldwinville, N.Y., recently kicked off the fundraising with a $1,000 donation. The Josh Woods HITS Foundation has been started; proceeds from the foundation also will be used for those with medical problems in financial need.

Barbara Woods isn’t sure how much the landing zone will cost as the project is in the early stages, but she’s dedicated to completing it.

“It’s important for some part of him to live on and make a difference in this community,” she said about Joshua Woods, the oldest of her four children. “He loved this community and loved the fire department. We want to make sure his wishes are honored.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation can do so through Branchville Volunteer Fire Department or the Joshua Woods HITS Foundation, 15258 Broad St., Branchville, Va., 23828, or by calling 757-743-8045.