Now in its third year of existence, Give Hope Wings is again organizing a fundraising effort by pilots that involves what pilots like doing most – flying. The recipient of the funds is Hope Air, a national charity that in turn organizes transportation, at no charge, for patients in need of medical care in far off places.
This year’s program, dubbed The Sault to Saguenay Expedition, will begin on September 30, taking off from Burlington airport (CBZA) in Southern Ontario, stopping in Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins and Sudbury before continuing on to Quebec City and the Saguenay region, ending there five days later. Media events that include Hope Air beneficiaries are being organized for each of the stops.
“I remember flying a child in Sudbury that was five months old but only weighed 10 pounds due to birth complications,” said COPA member and this year’s expedition leader Lee Arsenault, also a volunteer Hope Air pilot. “I will never forget how appreciative this young mother was for a free flight. It is moments like this that make our missions flying patients so rewarding.”
Give Hope Wings was founded by former COPA director and chairperson Dave McElroy. In 2018 he led a two-plane expedition around the perimeter of South America, departing from and returning to his home airport of Kelowna, British Columbia (CYLW), which raised over $500,000 for Hope Air.
McElroy also led the 2019 Northern Expedition up the British Columbia interior, through the Northwest and Yukon Territories to the Arctic Ocean, and then on to Alaska. Three aircraft participated in that event (including one flown by this writer) and over $250,000 for Hope Air was raised. In all, funds raised by Give Hope Wings expeditions have provided over 3,000 flights for patients needing out-of-town transportation.
“Thousands of families are helped every year through our work, and we want to continue and help even more people,” added Hope Air CEO Mark Rubinstein. “This expedition is an opportunity for us to do so.”
Pilots for this year’s expedition are still being recruited and those interested are invited to visit the Give Hope Wings website for further information. Donations are of course welcome and can be made online at Hope Air’s secure website.