“I will never forget that day,” said Suzanne Rioch, a retired art/special education teacher. “We were living in Victor at the time, and our house was near a corner. There was a motor vehicle accident involving a truck and a minivan about 500 yards from our house. The minivan occupant obviously needed swift medical treatment as Mercy Flight (Central) was called.” From a respectful distance, she remembers watching the scene unfold with her children as they landed on their property. “I believe it was this specific event that sparked the interest of my two oldest, Adam and Benjamin, to work and pursue careers as first responders,” she proudly recalls.
Adam and Benjamin are both professional firefighters though Benjamin’s path to become a firefighter wasn’t as direct as Adam’s. A volunteer firefighter while going to school, Benjamin initially pursued engineering, like Dad, Jonathan. Early in his career as an engineer, Benjamin realized that he wanted to become a full-time firefighter and made the switch. “They both absolutely love what they do,” said Suzanne.
Not only did that day’s events leave a lasting impression on the Riochs’ two eldest children, but also the entire family. The Rioch family also includes three other children – Chip, Sara, and David. It was after that incident that the family came to realize that they were in the flight path of Mercy Flight (Central) and took notice every time a helicopter would pass overhead. Because they are a very spiritual family, Suzanne said, “Every time we would hear the roar of a helicopter flying above, we would stop what we were doing, join hands, and say a prayer for the patient, the patient’s family, and the crew.” However, Suzanne always prayed for patients, their family members, and first responders anytime she encountered any emergency vehicles – long before the kids were born.
Suzanne and Jonathan now live in Springville and, coincidentally, are once again living in the flight path of an air medical transport service. This time it’s Western New York Mercy Flight’s Springville base of operation. “We feel like it’s a sign to once again be living in the flight path of such an invaluable organization,” says Suzanne. She goes on to say, “I believe it’s God’s sense of humor putting me in the flight path of Mercy Flight not once but twice so that I pray more often, keeping me on my knees for those in need.”
The Riochs’ philanthropy is inspired by Mercy Flight’s mission and centers around their spiritual beliefs. Suzanne says, “Now that our children are grown and Jonathan and I are in a place where we have enough to share with a charity, we feel it’s part of our duty to give back financially. We are proud to support the meaningful work that Mercy Flight provides to the community and are privileged to do so.”