Injured pilot's family encouraging others to help young burn victims

A former Minneapolis firefighter joined the family of fellow burn survivor Chuck Cook to help other survivors.

“It really hit me hard this morning because I know what he’s going through. I know what lies ahead for him, as well,” Laferriere said. “It’s the type of pain that I’ve never felt before. It cuts so deep and the emotions…it’s a life-changing event, for sure.”

Eight years ago when working as a firefighter, Laferriere was caught inside a devastating house explosion. Now, he’s committed his life to helping others through the excruciating healing process.

On Monday, his heart and thoughts remained with veteran pilot Chuck Cook. Just weeks ago on Aug. 23, Cook was piloting his 1955 T-28 Warbird during a flyover at Anoka County-Blaine Airport when there was a fire and Cook was badly burned in a crash landing.

“There’s no words to really articulate the horrible that’s going on there. I feel for him,” Laferriere said.

Cook’s family wrote on his public CaringBridge site that the veteran aviator reported smoke in the cockpit before bringing the aircraft down short of the runway.

Two good Samaritans driving nearby reported that the 65-year old was physically on fire in the immediate aftermath.

Cook’s injuries included horrific second and third degree burns on 40 percent of his body - including his head, face, neck and legs - as well as a shattered arm apparently from jumping out of the engulfed cockpit.

Cook has already been through multiple surgeries. He still can’t receive either visitors or gifts because of the high risk of infection, so the family is asking for something else: donations to Jake Laferrier’s Camp RED.

Camp RED - or Realize Every Dream - is a program that gives young burn victims a chance to forget about their pain and scars for a week-long summer outing in Crosslake, Minn.

“It means a ton because he’s not just another person supporting the camp. He’s gonna be a survivor like me, a brother like me. We’re in the community together, helping each other in the healing and on the road to recovery. It means so much more,” Laferriere said.

The family also set up a GoFundMe, which you can find here.

Statement from family of Chuck Cook:

“The family is very thankful and grateful for the Good Samaritans who rushed to Chuck’s aid. We are also extremely grateful for all the personal at the airport, first responders, and air support who tended to Chuck immediately, and medical team at HCMC who are taking care of Chuck for us. Children have always held a special place in his heart which made Camp RED the obvious choice for us. We know Chuck would be so encouraged to know he is helping young burn victims in their healing. We appreciate everyone’s support, thoughts and prayers for Chuck and our family. The family have been asked what everyone can do to help right now. We ask if you can, give blood, make sure you are a donor (and it’s listed on your license), and help support Camp RED.”