Angel Flights, a volunteer-run organization that provides air transportation to passengers in need of medical treatment far from home, had their inaugural flight out of Golden this month, transporting Kat Bakshi and her son Siyam to Kelowna.
Siyam, now four years old, was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was three, which required multiple trips over the last year to Vancouver and Kelowna for treatment.
The lengthy drives meant each trip took multiple days, which could be tough on the youngster.
Bakshi says that being able to fly through Angel Flights means that they can return on the same day as appointments, and are often home by 4 p.m.
“It’s huge, they make everything so much easier and convenient, especially with a four year old, those long drives are not very pleasent,” she said.
“They’re very compassionate and understanding, they do everything to help and ask all the right questions, they even arranged a taxi for us in Kelowna.
“There’s so much help and support out there, it’s been overwhelming.”
Bakshin says that although Siyam mostly slept through the flights, he was still excited to see the plane and had plenty of questions for their pilot, Brent Bidston, who is also the founder of Angel Flights East Kootenay.
She says that despite the smoke and weather, being able to take in the views of the mountains helps make the trips even easier.
“It’s wonderful to be able to help,” said Bidston.
“She’s a lovely lady and the lad is so nice, we wish them the best.”
Bakshi and her son will continue to use the service once a month as Siyam continues his treatment.
Angel Flights East Kootenays is available to all those in the East Kootenays, in places like Fernie, Cranbrook, Creston, Sparwood, Invermere and Golden.
The program is funded through donations.
Requesting transportation is an easy process, with two different ways to get access to transportation. Patients can either request a flight online through the website, or through their doctor, who should be knowledgeable about the service.
With a small core of volunteers, Angel Flights is still looking to grow and expand.
They’re looking to find more volunteers and community partners to help financially and spread the word about the program to inform more people about its existence.
More information on the program and how to help is available on their website at angelflightek.ca