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Vibrant Communities In Focus
Image Credit: Ernest Doroszuk
[Hope Air] In 1986, two Canadians had a dream: they wanted to make sure no one in Canada would miss out on medical help because they couldn’t afford to pay for a flight to reach their doctor. Joan Rogers and Jinnie Bradshaw started the service, which eventually became known as Hope Air. Since then, more than fifty thousand free flights have been arranged. Becky Bier lives in Sault Ste. Marie. She and her baby, Faith, flew on Hope Air to see specialists at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. “If I couldn’t fly, it would be a ten-hour bus ride. I just can’t risk taking Faith on a bus for ten hours, with people who might be sick. The first time we flew down to Sick Kids, she was just two months old. She’d had surgery for heart problems and needed to be checked. I’ll be flying down again, every two months. She’s a fighter and we have our fingers crossed. The pilot is so kind; he’s in love with Faith. We named her that because we have faith she’ll make it. And I honestly thank Hope Air every single day.” The Ontario Trillium Foundation has given Hope Air strong support through the years. A grant in 2001 helped develop the volunteer pilot program. And in 2005, thanks to a three-year grant, Hope Air began building a database called Health Net. The database matches would-be flyers with volunteer pilots and available planes, and it helps the staff and volunteers across the country communicate more effectively.