volunteer hours donated
people have volunteered their time
Volunteer Pilot Program
The Hope Air Volunteer Pilot Program consists of dedicated volunteers who provide patients with flights in their own planes. They offer critical support for patients who live in areas with limited access to flights or who can’t travel on a commercial flight for medical reasons.
Volunteer pilot team lead fundraising expedition for Hope Air
The married volunteer pilot team of Lee Arsenault and Marilyn Staig – who have already volunteered countless hours to fly patients – found additional ways to support Hope Air.
“These patients need to get to medical care and it has made me think about how else I could help,” says Lee.
Lee knows first-hand how much flights help patients in financial need. He has never forgotten a flight he piloted with a mother and child from Sudbury who needed to reach the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
“The child was five months old but only weighed 10 lbs. due to birth complications,” says Lee. “I will never forget how appreciative this young mother was for a free flight. She gave Marilyn and me a thank you card and warm hugs. It is moments like this that make our missions flying patients so rewarding.”
In 2020, Lee and Marilyn also led the Give Hope Wings: The Sault to Saguenay Expedition and helped raise $122,056, far exceeding the fundraising goal by 22 per cent.
Overcoming obstacles to deliver on our mission
This year, Hope Air witnessed some dramatic changes as different sectors were struggling to manage during this unprecedented time. Hospitals across the country postponed all but the most critical appointments and airlines reduced routes. This left many Hope Air patients concerned for their health.
“My team and I worked tirelessly over the last several months adapting to the changes that were brought upon us,” says Bhavini Solanki, client care manager.
“Many appointments were postponed or became a video call, but many patients still needed to travel so they could remain healthy. We worked closely with our airline partners to get patients to where they needed to go for their medical care. Our patients who needed it were so very grateful to be able to still reach their important appointments.”
For example, the client care team helped a woman from Kelowna, B.C. who had to fly to Vancouver for cancer care. The team was able to book her on a private plane through our Volunteer Pilot Program so she could reach her appointment.