When Kevin Crowe’s best friend, Ryan, asked for support through his 18-month battle with brain cancer, Crowe was initially terrified. “But thank God I said yes,” he says. “I was there to put his son in his arms for his last hug on the last day of life. I was there when his son fell asleep in his arms and his wife was cuddling him. I was there when he took his last breath. I saw the power of a visit.”
But not everyone gets to have that comfort. “When we were in the hospice, we saw so many families that just didn’t have the means to say goodbye,” recalls Crowe. “And I knew I wanted to do something really big and special in Ryan’s memory.” While grieving the loss of Ryan, Crowe discovered a staggering statistic: trillions of frequent flyer loyalty points went unused in 2011. “I thought, ‘Why don’t we have people donate their Aeroplan travel miles and we’ll get these mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters, sons and daughters on these planes, and they can have that closure that we had with Ryan?’ ”
The unfortunate truth is that, even in Canada, terminal illness can be financially exhausting. In Ryan’s case, he was unable to work and support his young family—a situation all too familiar for many. What’s more, many patients can find themselves seeking costly experimental treatments. The battle can take years, and if the family is far away, they’ve already spent a ton on travel. By the time all hope has reached its limit, so too has their ability to cover expensive flights for that final goodbye. That’s where Give A Mile—and you—come into play. You donate your miles, and Crowe and his team of volunteers make sure that last connection takes place. “In the past 10 years, we’ve done almost 1,000 flights, using 35 million donated miles,” says Crowe.
While Give A Mile primarily accepts Aeroplan points (which can be donated through giveamile.org), cash is incredibly useful, too. “There are some remote geographies where major airlines don’t fly,” notes Crowe. “We also have situations where we need to book a flight, but all of the mile seats are accounted for, or the flight is a last-minute emergency.” Other airlines’ loyalty points are also welcomed, albeit with one caveat—you must have enough to cover the whole flight.
If you’re looking to get a flight for yourself or a loved one, Crowe urges you to reach out. “The application process is simple,” he says. “And we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.”
THE GOOD PLACE
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