The comfort of holding a hand is sometimes all you can do for a loved one who is dying, but some people can’t afford to fly to say that final goodbye.
The Give A Mile charity is using donated Aeroplan reward points for flights to help make that very thing a reality for all.
Kevin Crowe told the 980 CJME Morning Show that he was inspired to start the program after spending time with his best friend who died of brain cancer.
“It was an eye-opening and heart-opening experience to see somebody running out of time, and the power of that experience,” Crowe said.
Before he died, his friend heard a crazy statistic that suggested there are billions of travel reward points that go unused in North America.
“While we were at hospice, we saw so many families that had to say goodbye over the phone because they couldn’t afford a plane ticket,” Crowe recalled. “We said why don’t we connect those unused travel miles have people donate them to people that need these flights so that they could be with a mother, daughter, father, sister or son.”
Over the past four years, Give A Mile has provided 400 flights to people in that situation. This year the goal is to provide 50 flights for Christmas.
Crowe said you can imagine the stress of having a loved one in palliative care or intensive care when you can’t afford to get to them.
“To be able to get on the phone and let them know they have a ticket and a flight is just so incredibly empowering for that family and it just takes a huge amount of stress away from them,” Crowe said.
The organization accepts Aeroplan points or anything that converts to Aeroplan. People can donate points on their website. Crowe pointed out that all donations go directly to people in need because operating funds are raised elsewhere. You can choose flight hero programs or specific flights.
People in need of a flight can also apply on the website. Crowe noted that the organization does require medical confirmation to show the need for the flight, but they do try to provide a quick turnaround to meet requests within a day or two because they understand time is of the essence.