Hope Air

Hope Air

September 27, 2011 11:00 ET

Hope Air Welcomes Rick Mercer as Honorary Patron

CBC Comedian's Experiences Across Canada Make Him a Perfect Representative for a Charity That Helps Canadians Access the Healthcare They Need With Free Flights

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 27, 2011) - Rick Mercer has spent a lot of time flying across Canada for his show The Rick Mercer Report. From tagging moose in Newfoundland; to harvesting oysters in Souris, PEI; to ice climbing in Thunder Bay, ON; to fighting fires in Kamloops, BC; Rick has a rare perspective on Canada and all the wonderful places across the country. That's why Hope Air, the unique charity that arranges free flights for low-income Canadians to get to healthcare, invited Rick to become their second National Honorary Patron – an offer he proudly accepted.

"Over the years, as host of The Rick Mercer Report, I've visited many of the smaller cities and towns where Hope Air clients live," Mercer says. "These are great communities, and wonderful places to live, work and raise a family. But if you are referred to specialized medical care outside your community it can sometimes be a real challenge to get to the care you need, especially for individuals and families living at – or below – the poverty line. Hope Air helps people get to the healthcare they need with free flights."

"Hope Air is delighted and very honoured to have Rick accept our offer to become a National Honorary Patron alongside Dr. Marc Garneau," says Hope Air Executive Director Doug Keller-Hobson. "Rick's patronage will assist in raising awareness of Hope Air's charity mission, which will help fuel Hope Air's continued growth and expand our free flight services to more people across the country."

"I am very excited to accept the role of Honorary Patron with Hope Air because of the national scope of the organization and the very real impact they have on Canadians who need to travel to healthcare," says Mercer. "This country is enormous and people are spread out across it – yet specialized medical expertise and advanced medical technologies are still mainly located in our larger cities."

Hope Air was founded 25 years ago and since then has provided over 66,000 flights to children and adults. Without Hope Air, many financially-disadvantaged Canadians face car or bus rides of up to 12 hours or more – each way – to get to medical care. That can be very stressful: financially, emotionally, and physically. Hope Air can alleviate a lot of that stress by providing free flights – and make a real difference in people's lives by doing so.

"In the first nine months of 2011, Hope Air has provided 3,468 free flights, up 40 per cent over the same period last year," says Keller-Hobson. "The need is there and, unfortunately, growing in these difficult economic times. Rick's participation will increase Hope Air's profile and assist our appeal to donors and other supporters, enabling us to grow the number of flights we can offer."

"I've been truly privileged to see so many parts of Canada – and meet the people who live in those communities," says Mercer. "Our healthcare system has a lot of good things going for it, but if you can't get to the doctor, you can't get better. Hope Air reduces the distance and cost between home and hospital for a lot of Canadians. I'm proud to be Honorary Patron of an organization that helps so many children and adults get to the medical care they deserve."

Rick has recorded a special message about Hope Air, available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLfa-3LKzZQ (A copy is available to upload for broadcast).

Rick Mercer joins current Hope Air National Honorary Patron Dr. Marc Garneau, C.C., Canada's first astronaut. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., is Viceregal Patron of Hope Air.

For an interview with Rick Mercer and/or a Hope Air representative please see contact below. Photos are also available, and interviews with a Hope Air Client in your region may be possible.

About Hope Air

Hope Air was founded 25 years ago to get financially-disadvantaged Canadians to specialized medical care that is only available in Canada's larger urban centres. Since then, Hope Air has expanded to provide free flights for all illnesses, for all ages, from all across Canada. Last year, Hope Air provided 3,675 Flights: in the first nine months of this year, 3,468 Flights have been provided – a 40 per cent increase over the same period last year. Hope Air operates three different flight programs: the Commercial Airline Donation Program, with flights donated by many of Canada's national and regional air carriers; the Volunteer Pilot Program, with private pilots contributing their skills and planes; and the Flight Purchase Program, which uses donated funds to purchase airline seats. Currently, 88 per cent of all revenue and in-kind donations are directly applied to Hope Air flight programs. We always work hard to keep administration costs low and our goal is to provide 90 per cent of all donations directly to the Hope Air Mission of Getting Canadians To Getting Better!

Please visit www.hopeair.ca to learn more.

Contact Information