A multi-aircraft expedition raising funds for Canadians who need to travel great distances to get life-saving medical care will stop in Maple Creek in late August.
The fourth annual Give Hope Wings fundraiser will feature a series of flights from Boundary Bay, British Columbia to Churchill, Manitoba and back.
More than 25 pilots – led by Dave McElroy, Chief Pilot, and president of Kelowna Flying Club – have been engaged for the venture.
The expedition will start on August 23, and return to BC on September 3, with the goal of raising more than $400,000, enough to provide 1,600 flights for Hope Air patients.
Hope Air is Canada’s only national charity providing free travel and accommodations for people in financial need; Give Hope Wings is its largest volunteer-led fundraiser.
News that the 12-day, 5,200-kilometre expedition will stop in Maple Creek for lunch was reported by Councillor Corrine Collura at the May 25 Town Council meeting.
“That’s pretty neat that our little airport is set up to receive something like that,” she said.
Reading from material on the expedition, Councillor Collura said: “The pandemic has not stopped cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or any of the other serious illnesses requiring urgent care. Now more than ever patients struggle to get to medical care due to financial hardship. Families should not have to choose between medical care, food, and rent.”
Councillor Collura said that from what she had read it was a “fantastic fundraiser”.
According to the schedule, the expedition will start with two flights between Boundary Bay and Drumheller, Alberta, on August 23, travelling 760 kilometres.
After crossing into Alberta, the squadron of pilots will spend two nights in Drumheller, allowing for sightseeing.
On August 24, Drumheller Municipal Airport will host an event to raise awareness and funds for patients in needing.
The pilots will then fly over the Canadian badlands to Maple Creek, where they will have lunch and take on fuel before continuing northeast to Yorkton.
The journey from Yorkton to Manitoba will feature four flights between August 26 and 30, covering 1,700 kilometres.
The next stops will be Saskatoon, followed by Red Deer Airport in Alberta and Jasper, seen as one of the jewels of the Rocky Mountains. Next, the pilots will re-enter BC and stay overnight in Nelson. The 450-kilometre final leg of the expedition will cover mountain ranges, forests, rivers and lakes before returning to Boundary Bay Airport on the Pacific Coast.
Since its inception in 1986, Hope Air has provided more than 155,000 travel arrangements for patients.
Thirty percent of Hope Air’s travel arrangements are for children and young people’s medical care. Patients travel for appointments for paediatric, cancer, musculoskeletal, nervous system and cardiovascular issues.