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Hope Air fundraiser makes landing in Heritage City

Dave McElroy — pictured with West Kootenay resident Genevieve Sauviat — is this year’s chief pilot for expedition and founder of Give Hope Wings. McElroy, originally from Nelson, is based in Kelowna. — Submitted photo

The Nelson Airport provided the backdrop to raise awareness and funds for Hope Air — a national charity that provides free flights and accommodations for Canadians in financial need who must reach medical care far from home.

Last Friday morning, pilot Dave McElroy landed at the Nelson Airport as part of the fourth annual Give Hope Wings expedition, held from August 23 to September 3.

The expedition aims to raise $400,000 to provide 1,600 flights to help people who must travel far away from their home communities for medical care.

“Flights are especially important for patients in Western Canada who would have to drive or take a bus for several hours each way to reach specialists and appointments,” the Hope Air fundraiser media release said.

“Without Hope Air, patients would take on unmanageable debt or cancel their appointments.”

West Kootenay resident Genevieve Sauviat knows first-hand the benefits of Hope Air.

Her son was diagnosed with a GLUT1 deficiency when he was a baby. GLUT1 is a protein responsible for transporting glucose into the brain, giving the brain fuel.

Driving from the West Kootenay to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver would have taken hours and paying for flights would have been costly.

When Sauviat’s son was seven weeks old, a social worker at the hospital told Genevieve about Hope Air and they have since travelled 15 times for care.

Sauviat’s son is doing well and continues to travel for follow up tests and appointments.

The expedition, featuring approximately 15 planes and 20 volunteers, started in Drumheller, Alberta before flying to Churchill, Manitoba and the back to B.C., stopping at several communities.  

“We are grateful for the incredible effort and commitment of our dedicated volunteer pilots to support Hope Air’s mission,” said Mark Rubinstein, CEO of Hope Air.

“Our passionate community of pilots, volunteers, sponsors and donors share Hope Air’s vision that no one should get left behind when it comes to accessing vital medical treatments far from home.”

For more information go to Hope Air.

About Give Hope Wings

Give Hope Wings is the largest volunteer-led fundraiser in Hope Air history. A squadron of pilots circumnavigates different parts of the world to raise money for Hope Air and support Canadian patients who have to travel for medical care. There have been three expeditions to date. The first expedition circumnavigated Central and South America, then a North-Western expedition with pilots flying to British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alaska and a Sault Ste. Marie to Saguenay expedition. Give Hope Wings has raised $900,000, providing more than 3,600 Hope Air medical access flights to patients in financial need with free travel to medical care far from home.