This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 21, 2023:
Long before production began on Jesus Revolution, the makers of that film, Kingdom Story Company and LionsGate, started work on Ordinary Angels. It will hit theaters in October. On Facebook, the company said the film is based on a true story:
We’re thrilled to announce the newest film from Kingdom Story Company and LionsGate — ORDINARY ANGELS — coming to theatres October 13, 2023.
Starring Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson, ORDINARY ANGELS is the incredible true story of a struggling hairdresser who single-handedly rallies an entire community to help a widowed father save the life of his critically ill young daughter.
The story is that of ordinary people caring for other ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. For two years, Michelle Schmitt, age three, had been waiting for a liver transplant. Time was running out when the phone rang, informing her grandmother that after all that wait a donor was available. That was the good news.
The bad news was that the donor was in Omaha, Nebraska, and Michelle and her widowed father were in Louisville, Kentucky, 600 miles away. And the donor couldn’t wait. The call came at 9:00 a.m. and they had until 6:00 p.m. to get Michelle to Omaha.
There was more bad news. A snowstorm that was expected to drop just a few inches turned into one of the worst in the history of Louisville. Roads were closed. Highways were closed. The only solution was a helicopter to fly Michelle.
But where to land? Sharon Stevens, a family friend, began the rescue operation that ultimately named Michelle the “miracle snow baby.” Stevens called a local radio station and asked for help. She called around to find a place where the helicopter could land. She found the parking lot of the Southeast Christian Church.
But it was covered with nearly 16 inches of snow.
Undaunted, she headed over to the church. By the time she got there, she found half a dozen people already there.
But time was running out. The clock was ticking.
Soon, more people showed up. And then more people. And then a snowplow.
They cleared the parking lot, the helicopter took Michelle to Omaha, and the liver transplant was successful.
The incident made the papers:
People from all over Kentucky came together yesterday in a breath-taking battle against time and nature for a Louisville girl.
Since 3-year-old Michelle Schmitt was a year old, she has been on a waiting list for a liver transplant. Yesterday, at 9 a.m., as a record snowfall paralyzed Louisville, her grandmother got the call the whole family had been waiting for. By sundown, a liver would be waiting for her.
In Omaha, Nebraska.
But there was no way for Michelle to get to the airport. No way for pilots to get there. No way for planes to take off, with the airport closed. No way for emergency medical workers to get out of their driveways.
To have the best chance of success, hospital workers in Nebraska wanted Michelle in Omaha by 6 p.m. — 7 p.m. at the latest.
The race was on.
For Hilary Swank, who plays Sharon Stevens in the film, the story touched her heart:
I was drawn to this beautiful true story because it’s such a powerful reminder that angels reside everywhere among us.
And that faith, hope, grit and positivity are all powerful fuel for miracles.
It’s also a story about the power of organ donation — something incredibly near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of this story and message.
For Jon Gunn, the film’s director, the timing couldn’t be better:
The story of Sharon Stevens and the Schmitt family is a powerful reminder that helping others is how we heal ourselves. I can’t think of a message I’d rather share with the world right now, and I’m honored to be telling it with such a fearless and talented cast.
According to screenings done in advance of its public debut, the film is the highest-tested film Kingdom Story — producers of I Can Only Imagine, I Still Believe, and Woodlawn, in addition to Jesus Revolution — has ever made.
Michelle passed away in May, 2021 at age 31. From her obituary:
She was born on December 3, 1990, in Louisville, Kentucky to Edward and Theresa (Sinnott) Schmitt. She is preceded in death by her mother, Theresa Ann Schmitt and grandparents; Edward E Schmitt and Barbara Schmitt.
Michelle was loved by all and known by many as the “Snow Baby of Louisville.”
For more than two years the Schmitt family waited for a life-saving liver transplant. On January 17, 1994, when Michelle was three, they got the call a donor liver was available in Omaha, Nebraska. Louisville woke up to more than a foot of snow and below freezing temperatures that day, making travel difficult; the donor liver would only be viable for a few hours.
After a family friend called a local radio station to broadcast a call for help, strangers cleared a parking lot at Southeast Christian Church, then located on Hikes Lane, for a helicopter to land and take Michelle to the airport.
In Omaha, the donor liver was successfully transplanted and Michelle was dubbed the “Snow Baby.” After her liver transplant, Michelle graduated from Spalding University, got married and started her career in the medical field working with children.
She was passionate, caring and loving to everyone and she treated everyone equally.