A regional organization that provides transportation services for patients seeking cancer care treatments received a funding boost from the Lac La Biche Heritage Society this month.
The Road To Hope organization received a thousand dollar donation from the Lac La Biche seniors' group last week.
The Road To Hope Program operates in the Lac La Biche and Athabasca region with about a dozen volunteer drivers on the roster. In 2022, the program logged about 35,000 kilometres of patient travel. Drivers for the association use their own vehicles for the trips. In the Lac La Biche area, a Road To Hope van has also been purchased by the Lac La Biche Kinsment Club as an option for drivers to use.
It's all part of a community support network that the seniors look for when donating funds, says Lac La Biche Heritage Society President Les Diachinsky.
"We look for groups that have connections to seniors, who help with the health and well-being of the community," he said.
The funds from the seniors society come from their gaming account, raised through funds made working casino, local bingos and in-house events that bring awareness to the seniors' group and help for community organizations.
"We look to share those funds with community groups," he said.
The most recent funding donation will go towards client transportation costs at Road To Hope.
"The money will be used to offset the costs to the drivers," says Road To Hope vice-president Blair Norton.
Drivers volunteer their time, but are paid a mileage subsidy for the rides, as well as a small meal allowance.
"There is also a $15 meal allowance, but very few of the drivers use that," said Norton, who is also one of four drivers in the Lac La Biche area.
Most of the trips for scheduled medical appointments are to Edmonton, but other destinations have included Fort McMurray, Sherwood Park and communities across the Lakeland. Patients don't pay for any of the costs associated with the transportation. The foundation operates on some grant funding, but relies heavily on community fundraising and donations.
The Road To Hope Foundation is always looking for donations to its program, says Norton. The group is also always on the lookout for more volunteers.
Norton says drivers are in short supply and the demand for the service continues to grow. Although travel was reduced during the COVID19 pandemic, the service didn't completely stop, and as the 2022 statistics show, the demand continues to grow.
Donate, drive, help
Information about donations, to book a ride or to become a volunteer with the Road To Hope Foundation can be found at their website.
Upcoming awareness and fundraising events for the Road To Hope Foundation include the Run for Hope event at Lac La Biche's Sir Winston Churchill Provincial Park in June and the annual Road To Hope golf fundraiser in Athabasca in September.