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Wheel-a-thon for Hope Air
FORT ST. JOHN – Triple-amputee Darlene Thomas took on the indoor walking track to raise money for children with cancer on Aug. 28.
“We buried a dear friend of mine who was only four years old, and he died of cancer, he had cancer from head to toe, consequently, I do it now with [him] in mind,” she said before beginning her rounds in an electric wheelchair at the Northern Vac-Track.
Thomas teamed up with Hope Air, a national charity that provides free flights for people who need to access medical care outside their community but can’t afford it. The funds raised will stay in Fort St. John.
While Hope Air helps all ages that suffer from any type of medical condition, Thomas wanted her fundraising efforts to go specifically to children dealing with cancer.
“I do it for the cancer kids because whatever funds I can make for the cancer kids it alleviates funds that could go to the adults and other children. It’s not just cancer children that Hope Air takes; it’s everybody who needs medical care.”
Last year Hope Air provided 33 flights from Fort St. John to Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. This year they have provided 82 flights.
“Our calculations are pretty simple, it cost us on average almost $250 per flight, per client,” said Hope Air donor relations officer Anna du Bois. “When we provide a flight for one person it usually positively affects five other people: parents, siblings, class mates, [and] employers.”
Hope Air caters to anyone that meet the following criteria. “We will fly people across the country, provided they have an appointment,” explained du Bois. “They’ve been referred to a specialist who isn’t here … but they don’t have money we will fly child, adult, elderly person—it doesn’t matter we will fly anybody.”
Thomas herself has been a recipient of Hope Air’s cause. “They fly me twice a year to Vancouver because I have to have my prosthetics fixed,” said Thomas, noting that she didn’t make a trip down in 2012.
Last year Thomas raised $700. “Last year we managed to get a few children off to their treatments,” she said.
This year she is collaborating with the Bank of Nova Scotia in hopes to raise more money. “If you donate to Hope Air through the bank of Nova Scotia they will double whatever funds raised.”
Alicia Calder, who is also in a wheelchair, joined Thomas for the wheel-a-thon. Thomas did 34 laps and Calder finished 22.