Abby Stavast has been flying Hope Air with her mom Becky since she was five years old.
“They help look after me lots,” said Abby, now 13.
She needs to get to Vancouver twice per year to see a specialist. Hope Air is the only charity of its kind to offer free flights so that she and her mom do not have to make the long and sometimes treacherous winter drive to the Lower Mainland.
Abby said she is greatful that her mom gets to come along.
“If something were to happen, I can always call my mom and she always knows what to do,” she said.
Becky heard about Hope Air through another mother who reached out when she heard about Abby’s diagnosis. She said it was easy to apply online, and she did not need to get into all the medical history to be approved.
“It’s a huge cost savings. I don’t think that we would go to see her specialist as often as we are supposed to if we didn’t have her flights covered,” said Becky.
Abby and her mom were at the Coastal GasLink office in Smithers last Tuesday to hear that TransCanada was donating $30,000 to Hope Air as part if the charity’s 30th anniversary cross-country fundraiser that aims to collect 30 donations of $30,000.
All the money will be dedicated to patients and families flying out of northern B.C. airports.
Hope Air executive director Doug Keller-Hobson was in town as part of his year-long 30th anniversary effort to find those funds and spread the word on a charity he described as little-known.
He has been at his position for 11 years, and was a volunteer before that.
“The more who hear about us, the more people come aware — social workers, doctors — that we’re a resource available, and hopefully companies hear and are willing to donate. Donations stay in the communities they come from,” explained Keller-Hobson.
He pointed people to the website if they wanted to use the service or help out at hopeair.ca.
“We cater to all ages, all illnesses,” he said.
Coastal GasLink director for TransCanada Greg Cano said the company has partnered with Hope Air since the northern B.C. LNG pipeline project started planning four years ago.
TransCanada is also in charge of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project that would feed the Pacific Northwest LNG terminal recently approved with conditions by the federal government.
“Most of our infrastructure is in remote areas across Canada, especially the two projects we’re looking at here in British Columbia,” said Cano.
“We have people who live and work in those communities, and so for us it’s natural to support a charity that provides services to those remote communities improving their health care.
“One of the things that we’ve found in the four years we’ve been developing these projects here is health care is really high on the list of people’s concerns in these communities, whether it be here at Vanderhoof, Telkwa or Terrace.”