A series of recent fundraisers hosted by the Lac La Biche Flying Club is going to help support families from rural communities across the country needing access to air travel for medical appointments.
The local club has raised $3,100 — including a $1,000 cheque from Lac La Biche County — for the Give Hope Wings project. The local air club’s donation is going to supprt the Canada-wide project that is seeing over a dozen pilots fly across the country this month to raise awareness and funds. The Hope Air project runs from June 6-26.
“The money that was donated by all parties in Lac La Biche—very generously— it’ll pay for five or six pre-flights for Canadians to get the healthcare they need—it’s very significant,” said Dave McElroy, the chief pilot and founder of the Give Hope Wings project.
McElroy was one of the BC pilots to touch-down at the Lac La Biche airstrip June 9 for the meet-and-greet.Lac La Biche was one of two dozen community stops for the cross-Canada trip.
Starting off in Victoria, B.C., going all the way to St. John’s, NL., and finishing of in Montréal, Que., for the annual conference of the Canadian Owners Pilot Association (COPA), a handful of pilots and passengers landed at the Lac La Biche Airport on June 9 as part of the cross-county mission, said Oriana Kononchuk, the Lac La Biche Flying Club’s President.
Supporting the national fundraiser, she added is a good way to give back to an organization that is helping save lives while supporting the aviation industry.
“We felt it was a great cause, and it involved aviation as well, so it kind of blended together. We read a lot of the stories about where the funds from the fundraiser were going to, and its heartwarming knowing that it saved a few lives and helped a lot of families, said Kononchuk.
Annual campaign and local donation
Give Hope Wings has been running for five years, and is a part of the Hope Air Foundation which is aiming to raise $1 million to help Canadians in remote communities find air travel to get to medical appointments. The project is a great way to get everyone involved in promoting the foundation and the annual event, said McElroy, a veteran pilot who started the project with a handful of volunteers and a dream to use his passion for flying to help people in need.
This year already, over $500,000 dollars has been raised and throughout the last five years millions to support almost 2,900 trips for Hope Air clients, it’s an annual program that means more families will be able to access medical facilities—a benefit that recipients have said changed their lives, McElroy added.
“I’ve met quite a few Hope Air clients and they say, ‘this made all the difference to my life and my family’s life, the fact the we’re able to get this healthcare’ some people even say, ‘You saved my life,’’’ which he adds makes the support for the Lac La Biche Flying Club that much more important.
“The Lac La Biche contribution is going to have that same effect on five or six families. I’m sure,” he said. “We were really blown away by the excellent reception we had and the generous donation, my goodness.”
For the local flying club, finding causes to support rural communities and those in need is important, said Kononchuk who appreciated all the effort from club members, volunteers and the municipal council members who showed up to the recent meet-and-greet with a cheque for $1,000.
“It means a lot that the community and town supported, and made that donation….It was really nice to see council members showing up and showing their support.”
Funds in Lac La Biche came from the municipality, volunteers, barebeque fundraiser, individual donations and a raffle for two WestJet tickets to anywhere their planes fly worth $1000—which was then raffled of for $1,600.
The money raised during the Lac La Biche part of the fundraiser is being matched by an anonymous donor that will double the first $2,500 of funds raised in the month-long mission
The network of support and spirit of partnership is a hallmark of aviation clubs and the airline industry, said both McElroy and Konochuk.
With volunteer pilots and a network of aviation members who are a part of the COPA, finding support for initiatives like this one is possible.
“The aviation group, often, everyone wants to help everybody in the group. It’s nice to meet pilots on the same page,” said Konochuck. “Being a flying club, it's important to meet other pilots in other areas. Being that some of us own our own aircraft, a lot of times we’ll fly to a couple provinces over and contact that person we had met. It’s a different type of group.”
It’s believed that 15 airplanes will be making the final mission leg to Montréal on June 26, where more funds are expected to be added to the cross-Canada collection.
For more information on the fundraiser, to join or donate, go online to www.support.hopeair.ca or follow the links in the digital version of this story at www.lakelandtoday.ca