One man’s entire perspective on life changed when he survived the “Miracle on the Hudson,” and he's dedicated every Thanksgiving since to paying it forward.
Casey Jones, 56, raises money each year to buy turkeys for people in need, and this year he's hoping to feed hundreds of families.
He was aboard the US Airways flight in 2009 when its engines failed following a bird strike and landed in the freezing Hudson River in mid-January.
Jones was hundreds of miles away from his Jacksonville, Florida, home and stayed in a hotel that night.
It was then that he had an epiphany.
“The night of the plane crash when I got the hotel I looked in the mirror for the first time. The image that stared back at me was the image of a homeless person,” Jones told InsideEdition.com. “I had a cut in my head; my hair was wet from falling in the river. Everything I had on was borrowed. I had nothing to connect, no cell phone, no phone numbers.”
Jones said he gained a newfound compassion in that moment.
“I felt through no fault of my own that I was in a situation that I wasn’t used to being in. It gave me compassion and understanding for the homeless and less fortunate that I never would have had. It was a gift I received. All the judgment was taken away.”
A year later as he listened to the radio, Jones heard that the Salvation Army had lost a donor and might not have enough money to buy turkeys for families in need.
He emailed five friends for help and within 24 hours, they had enough money for 12 turkeys to give the organization.
Now, seven years later, Jones’ mission to help is still going strong. So far, through a GoFundMe account that he started for Thanksgiving this year, he has raised more than $5,000 — enough money for 330 turkeys — and hopes to keep going.
“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Jones. “When people who give sit down on Thanksgiving, they’ll know there will be a family also sitting down that wouldn’t’ have been able to. Even if you can’t give, keep the less fortunate in your thoughts and prayers.”