FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – After two years of abbreviated trips trying to raise funds and awareness for Hope Air, Give Hope Wings pilots are finally flying coast-to-coast across Canada.
Two of those pilots touched down Tuesday afternoon in Fort St. John.
Among them was David McElroy, chief pilot and one of the founders of Give Hope Wings, who says that he’s confident that they’ll surpass their fundraising goal of a million dollars this year.
“We’ve raised $1.3 million in the last five years or four years. This year we’ve got a target of a million dollars, but let’s put it this way, we’ll certainly be well over 2 million dollars total by the time we finish this one,” McElroy said.
“We’re at half a million now. We want to exceed that and get a lot closer to our million dollar goal.”
McElroy says this money funds many urgently required medical flights for less fortunate Canadians at no cost to those accessing Hope Air services.
He says Canada has an excellent healthcare system, but those who live in remote areas and limited funds have issues accessing it, which is where Hope Air comes in.
“Hope Air solves problems of distance and costs. They’ve added services like hotels, overnight accommodation, and transport to and from. They’re really filling a desperate need,” McElroy said.
McElroy founded Give Hope Wings with two of his colleagues, Russ Airey and Harold Fast, with the goal of fundraising for Hope Air as well as raising awareness of the service.
The three recruited other pilots and embarked on their first fundraising mission in 2018, flying from Kelowna and circumnavigating through South America before returning to Canada.
Among those pilots was Fort St. John’s O’Brian Blackall, who flew a leg of the journey from Santiago to Buenos Aires.
Since 2011, Hope Air has facilitated nearly 70,000 travel arrangements from British Columbia.