Dedicated To Helping Financially Needy Patients With Free Medical Air Transportation AFMAof America
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Banquet Weekend Brings Together Airlift Hope Friends

Friends of Airlift Hope of America, pilots, staff, board members, community representatives and special guests gathered “Under the Harvest Moon” on Oct. 21 for a memorable evening at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center.

The night began at 6 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction, followed by a delicious buffet dinner. Special highlights were the Color Guard, a solo performance of the National Anthem, and a keynote address by U.S. Congresswoman Thelma Drake, who commended Airlift Hope of America for its extraordinary service and reported on the Volunteer Pilot Organization Protection Act of 2006 which she sponsored and which passed the House. The bill is now in the Senate (S.929), with Sen. Allen expressing confidence of its passage.

Two special guests were Leanne and Cristina Powell, both Airlift Hope of America patients and frequent fliers, who gave a moving account of their medical and financial difficulties, and the blessings of flying with Airlift Hope of America.

Throughout the evening, guests were treated to the beautiful piano music of our friend in aviation Jerry Wilson, who has played for us at past Airlift Hope of America banquets.

Ed Boyer, CEO and President of Mercy Medical Airlift, and winner of the National Aeronautic Association’s Elder Statesman Award, spoke briefly of Airlift Hope of America’s continuing growth and expansion. Another highlight was announcement of pilot awards, with several volunteers present to receive the plaque awards. These included Keith Taylor of N.C., David Wylie of PA, Michael Johnson of MD, and Dick Lawrence of MI. The event’s emcee, pilot Mark Farris, of Virginia, was also recognized as Virginia’s Finest Pilot. A new award was established this year for Community Representative of the Year and given to pilot Rich Badaracco of North Carolina.

Next came an announcement of the silent auction winners, with the top item being a week’s vacation in a fabulous seven-bedroom beach house in the Outer Banks..

The evening closed with Lisa Hernandez singing a beautiful rendition of “God Bless America,” followed by a benediction from Rev. Larry Crowell of Galilee Episcopal Church.

Other weekend events included a Continental breakfast on Saturday morning along with a tour of the Mid-Atlantic regional offices and a trip to see the newly-refurbished Bonanza aircraft at Landmark Aviation. Joint board meetings and training for community representatives occurred during the afternoon hours.

Plans are already underway for next year’s banquet. We look forward to seeing you there!

Silent auction drew enthusiastic bidders with items ranging from beach house vacation to teeth whitening!

Silent auction drew enthusiastic bidders with items ranging from beach house vacation to teeth whitening!
Leanne (L) and Cristina P., frequent flyers with our program, were happy to be with “angels” and to share Cristina’s colorful paintings.

Leanne (L) and Cristina P., frequent flyers with our program, were happy to be with “angels” and to share Cristina’s colorful paintings.
MaryJane (MJ) Sablan, missions director, presents David Wylie of Pennsylvania with his “Finest Pilot” award.

MaryJane (MJ) Sablan, missions director, presents David Wylie of Pennsylvania with his “Finest Pilot” award.
Dick Lawrence of Michigan receives his plaque award.

Dick Lawrence of Michigan receives his plaque award.
Mark Farris of Virginia was also the emcee for the evening

Mark Farris of Virginia was also the emcee for the evening
Michael Jones from Maryland is recognized for his achievement as a devoted pilot.

Michael Jones from Maryland is recognized for his achievement as a devoted pilot.
Keith Taylor, a dentist from NC, won both the Mid-Atlantic Pilot of the Year and NC state awards.

Keith Taylor, a dentist from NC, won both the Mid-Atlantic Pilot of the Year and NC state awards.
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