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Imagine if you were a young single mother of an 8 year old child making minimum wage and living in Hearst, Ontario which is more than 900 km from Toronto and your child needed a medical procedure only available at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto and you do not own a car and the bus takes 17 hours to make the journey.
Also imagine if you are a retired pilot first with the Royal Canadian Air Force flying the venerable and versatile Hercules followed by years with Air Canada flying the Airbus320; plus you own your own plane.

That is the situation The Rotary Club of Kingston’s Sylvio Roy faced when he volunteered to offer his services to the Canadian charity Hope Air.

Since its founding in 1986, Hope Air has provided  more than 172,000 patients free transportation, often by air with pilots like Roy, from remote communities for those in need like the Hearst child accompanied by a caregiver such as her Grandmother if her Mother could not afford the time off work. Instead of an 17 hour bus ride Silvio could fly the two of them from Heart’s Rene Fountaine Airport to Toronto in about three and one-half hours.

Hope Air flies the majority of patients and caregivers using commercial carriers but over 3,100  have been with volunteer pilots owning their own aircraft.
It was a perfect match for Silvio.  The Volunteer Pilot Program (VPP) provides financial assistance with fuel costs and tax receipts to help defray maintenance costs.  In return, Hope Air gets a fleet of highly flexible assets, able to access areas where there are few or no commercial alternatives. 

Like the astronauts of NASA who only account for 15% of NASA's budget, these volunteer pilots and their personal aircraft take up a small portion of the Hope Air budget, but have become the Face of Hope Air.

Canada enjoys Universal Healthcare but does not enjoy universal access to this health care.  We are a large country with a small population 90% of which resides within 100 miles of our southern border. It is the other 9% living in mid-Canada who do not have the means to use public transportation whom Hope Air serves.

Hope Air does not serve those requiring medical assistance while flying. Such paediatric and paramedics air services as Ornge in Ontario fly urgent care patients to hospitals regardless of need. And then there are the truly remote communities, many indigenous who have no roads at all who also need such services.

Sylvio continued with data on the impact of the VPP and of the personal tragedy that would come to many were they not there to respond.  He introduced personal examples of heroic kids fighting the odds and the impact Hope Air had on their lives. 

He was a wonderful ambassador for a charity providing hope and a helping hand by “bridging the distance from home to hospital for Canadians in need”, their motto.
View and Listen to Sylvio Roy's Talk
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