Save-On-Foods locations across the region banded together to help raise over $19,000 for a volunteer medical transport service that takes clients to hospital appointments in Kelowna at no cost.
A cheque was presented to Brent Bidston, the co-founder of Angel Flights East Kootenay, by regional Save-On-Foods representatives from Sparwood, Fernie, Creston, Golden and Kimberley in Cranbrook.
The donation, roughly $7,000 above the goal, will be a significant financial boost for the Elk-Valley based non-profit organization, said Bidston.
“It’s an absolutely huge bonus, financially, which ensures that we will continue providing the service for quite some time, but it’s also a huge benefit in the fact they [Save-On-Foods] spread the word so well,” said Bidston. “And as a result, we are getting more calls from people who are offering to do some fundraising for us as well as getting the world out to our potential clients.”
Bidston, a retired airline pilot with Korean Air, has been working with Angel Flight East Kootenay co-founder Todd Weselake since the beginning of the year to get the service off the ground.
So far this year, they’ve made seven return flights to Kelowna for people who face transportation challenges. Oftentimes, medical appointments only last less than 30 minutes, when a return trip by car can take 14 hours or more.
For Angel Flight East Kootenay, a trip out of Cranbrook to Kelowna takes roughly an hour each way.
Bidston lauded the Save-On-Foods fundraising campaign, noting that while the money is important to keep the service alive, it also helped spread the word that the service exists and is available for those who may experience transportation challenges for faraway medical appointments.
“We have a steady flow of requests, but we are concerned that not enough people are aware of the service yet, which is why Save-On-Foods spreading the word was so valuable for us,” Bidston added.
For more information about Angel Flight East Kooteany, visit their website.