Hope Air is the only charity in Canada that provides free flights to low-income Canadians of all ages and all illnesses who require travel to access critical medical care.
Over 20% of Canada's population live in small and rural communities where specialized medical care is often not available. Hope Air flights are often the only way patients reach treatment. Without Hope Air, 29% of patients would cancel or postpone their medical appointment. This has serious repercussions for their health, and it can also interfere with their ability to work, care for their family, attend school or participate in the community.
Hope Air obtains the free flights provided to patients by using donated funds to purchase airfare on commercial airlines, through volunteer pilots who use their personal aircraft to fly patients to their appointments and with seats donated by their airlines partners, such as WestJet. All Hope Air patients are living on a low income and could not otherwise afford the cost of the travel Hope Air provides for free. Since its inception in 1986, Hope Air has provided more than 137,060 flights.
WestJet has been a proud supporter of Hope Air since our inception in 1996. Gift of flight support through the WestJet Cares for Kids program helps Hope Air to remove barriers and provide free flights for low-income Canadians who need to travel to medical care. The opportunity WestJet saw was to help increase awareness of and support for Hope Air by creating an engaging and inspirational video.
In 2018 WestJet built our Community Investment story-telling videos around a "WestJet Thanks" concept. The concept was to give a WestJet Cares for Kids partner program recipient the opportunity to say 'thank you' to someone who made a significant difference to her while she was on her health journey. While hearing about the program recipient's background story and journey with our WestJet Cares for Kids partner, we would ask her to identify who she would like to thank, then work with the program recipient to design a special surprise thank you for this person/group that WestJetters help bring to life.
WestJet and Hope Air, along with creative content agency studio m, set out to create a Thanksgiving themed and timed "WestJet Thanks" content piece as an engaging and inspiring way to inform Canadians, our guests, and employees about Hope Air.
We were instantly inspired when we were introduced to longtime Hope Air patient Leora Wildi. Leora, who is now 23 years old, was diagnosed with two types of bone cancer at the age of 14. Her cancer treatment caused serious and life-long complications that has required more than 50 trips from her hometown of Prince George, B.C., to Vancouver for specialized medical care. Due to Leora's mobility and hip issues she is unable to make the 780km (484 miles) drive to Vancouver so flying is her only option.
Cancer-free for eight years and counting, we gave Leora the opportunity to speak out about how Hope Air played an integral part in her recovery. While doing so, she was also able to thank some of those who helped her on her health journey.
Leora says that she would not be where she is today, a thriving, vibrant young student, without the love and support of family, friends, Prince George community and the travel support provided by Hope Air. That's why we helped her bring some of them together for a special Thanksgiving celebration filled with fun and surprises.
Through watching the heartfelt and inspiring video, viewers come to understand the critical support Hope Air provides to Canadians who need to travel to access medical care they wouldn't otherwise be able to access. Viewers also learn how Hope Air helps relieve the strain on financially-burdened families and reduces their emotional stress when the uncertainty of illness prevails.
The "WestJet Thanks: Giving hope" video achieved its goals of informing, engaging and inspiring Canadians to learn more about and to support Hope Air. By working together, Hope Air and WestJet highlighted our unique partnership, shared key messages, continued to grow brand loyalty, and created lasting relationships with current and prospective followers.
Hope Air reported an increase in traffic to their website, social media followers and engagements including:
Hope Air received several appreciative messages including:
"Wow, I thought this video was breathtaking! Such a stunning depiction of Hope Air's work, this family's resilience and the local community of Prince George. Thank you so much, for all that you do. And to our WestJet partners." – Social Worker