In her 70s, Margaret discovered she had breast cancer and a large mass in her pelvis. To get the tumour removed, she needed surgery in Vancouver—a long, expensive trip from her home in Salmo. She turned to Hope Air. The service flew her to Vancouver and back—for free.

“It was like a blessing,” she says. “I call it the law of kindness. When you really need it, it comes around.” Thankfully, the surgery was a success and the tumour benign, and Margaret can now concentrate on treating her breast cancer.

Hope Air serves many people like this in medical need. Since 1986, it has provided over 138,000 free flights throughout Canada. And now, more people than ever in the Columbia Basin can benefit from these flights, thanks to support from the Trust.

“If it wasn’t for Hope Air, my children would have missed their appointments and surgeries. This program has truly been a blessing for my family! The friendly, caring staff that work so hard and fast on a crunch are amazing! Keep up the hard work, Hope Air. You are changing lives and that is amazing.” – mother of young patients from Cranbrook

The organization helps people in financial need get to medical care far from home (not including emergency situations), which is particularly needed in small and rural communities where specialized care isn’t available. This may enable the patient to get a diagnosis, get medical treatment or attend follow-up appointments. The most common need for support is for cancer patients, followed by those with cardiovascular disease. Many are children.

“Hope Air helped my husband and daughter get to medical appointments that we couldn’t have afforded otherwise. Thank you once again.” – mother of young patient from Cranbrook

“These flights relieve a great deal of financial burden and the stress that’s associated with long-distance road travel,” says Alanna Scott, Hope Air’s Vice President, Development. “Instead of worrying about how they might pay for their flight, or how they’re going to get to their appointment, the patients are able to focus on the things that are really important to them at the time, which is their health and whatever stage of the health care journey they might be at.”

The free flights are possible thanks to partnerships with airlines and many donations and grants from individuals, corporations and foundations, including the Trust.

In 2018, Hope Air provided 610 flights out of Cranbrook, Castlegar and Trail. Of these, 188 wouldn’t have been possible without Trust support. And without these flights, patients would have had to choose from three options: travel by car or bus for four to 12 hours each way, possibly in bad weather; incur debt to pay for a flight; or postpone or cancel the appointment altogether, risking their health.

“Thanks to Hope Air I was able to attend my cancer appointments in Vancouver.” – patient from Castlegar

Scott says, “We want to make sure that residents in the Columbia Basin that have health issues know this service is available to them.”

To learn more and apply for a free flight, visit hopeair.ca or call 1.877.346.HOPE (4673).