As the holiday season comes to a close and travelers make their way back home, we are all reminded of a simple fact of modern life: traveling – especially flying – is neither cheap nor easy. That’s why one pilot’s amazing acts of charity are making national headlines.
Joe DeMarco has given away roughly 1,500 flights since 2009, and saving countless lives in the process. He offers free flights to people who need life-saving medical treatment.
For those who need chemotherapy, an organ transplant, or emergency surgery, flying via a commercial airline is often impossible. When every second counts, Joe DeMarco and his non-profit transportation service, Wings Flights of Hope, are there to help.
Formerly a contractor, Joe Demarco began a new life over a decade ago when he accompanied his best friend on a flight to save a young boy with cancer. When he saw the effect he had on the boy and his family, his life was forever changed.
“His mother was crying and hugging and thanking us,” DeMarco told PEOPLE Magazine. “We had made such a difference for this family. We gave this little boy a second chance at life…I knew this was my calling.”
After realizing there was a need for volunteer pilots, he embarked on a new journey that would turn him into a hero. DeMarco worked to earn the qualifications necessary for medical flights and soon began to transport the sick and needy.
In 2009, Joe, along with his wife, Diane, founded Wings Flights of Hope in Buffalo, New York. Wings Flights of Hope transports people free of charge so that they can receive the emergency medical treatment they so desperately need.
Now, eight years later, Wings Flights of Hope has grown. There are 12 volunteer pilots who donate their time, although DeMarco would like to see the program expand even further.
Currently, Wings Flights of Hope covers the entire northeast United States, but DeMarco hopes to cover more of the country in time. To make a donation in support of this amazing organization, you can donate via paypal. If you’re a pilot interested in volunteering your services, you can reach them by email or at 1-866-61-WINGS.
“We want to educate pilots about this organization,” he tells PEOPLE. “Why not take something you love to do and make a difference? There is a need for getting people places. And that’s not going to go away any time soon.”
Joe DeMarco proves it’s possible to do what you love and make a difference at the same time. As we begin a new year, DeMarco’s story serves as a great reminder that we should all use our talents to create positive change in the world!
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