From addict to pilot: How one Tennessee mom finally turned her life around

From addict to pilot: How one Tennessee mom turned her life around. FOX 17 News photo.

A couple years ago, Lauren Havens was addicted. Not to flying, but to drugs explaining, “You name it, I’ve used it.”

The last place you'd expect to see this Coffee County mom? In the pilot's seat. She couldn’t get her own life off the ground.

Her daughter, Cadence, was forced to look after little brother as her mother struggled with addiction.

“I felt like no one cared about me or my brother and I felt like I was in a dark hole. I knew if I ran away, my brother probably wouldn’t live," Cadence remembered.

Then, at rock bottom, this addicted mom went to Blue Monarch in the rolling hills of Hillsboro, Tennessee. A picturesque place that helps abused, addicted, broken women and their children, get their wings back, heal and fly again. A place that tried to help Lauren once before.

“This is her second time at Blue Monarch. The first time she was here, she was discharged for fighting," Blue Monarch's Susan Binkley explained.

Lauren adds, “Mrs. Susan was really great to give me a second chance because I really didn't deserve it.”

Her second time around, Lauren completed the program and is transitioning to fly on her own in life with a career now in aviation.

“We discovered I get bored really easily,” Lauren laughed.

Binkley adds, “It just hit me one day. Gosh! Aviation would be a great fit for her. We have donor friends who loved to buzz over our property so I called him."

Jim Apple is a Retired Air National Guard Colonel with a hangar in Tullahoma. He said he and his wife have been interested in Blue Monarch for years.

“He (Jim Apple) was willing to help me. He's like, I'll let you fly my plane. I'll supply the fuel. I'll pay for your ground school," Lauren said.

And, Apple was pleased to help.

“Probably one of the most focused tenacious young ladies I've ever seen in my life," Apple said. "There was no question in my mind when we talked about her learning to fly that she was serious about it.”

And she has been serious, week after week, month after month. Flight instructor and Retired General John Miller adds, “There were days she'd go home and say, ‘I'll never get this done’ and days I'd go home and say, ‘Is she ever going to get there?’ But we did.”

Yes, they did.

“I’m 4,000 feet above everything that's going on down there. You know and it's like I can escape from things and I go up there and I pray," Lauren said.

Her kids are incredibly proud.

“She surprises me in so many ways. I can not even begin to tell you how amazing it feels to have a mom who is a pilot," Cadence said.

Lauren says, “It makes me want to cry right now because it's just like I never thought they would be proud of who I am because I didn't give them much to be proud of.”

For Lauren, the sky truly is the limit. To learn more about Blue Monarch or to get involved, click here.

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