Hope Air Welcomes Rick Mercer as Honorary Patron

Tue Sep 27, 2011 11:00am EDT

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

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.

Hope Air
CK DesGrosseilliers
Communications Manager
Cell: 647-378-8203 or Toll-free: 1-877-346-4673, ext. 227

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