A Letter Of Thanks From A Christmas Flight Recipient
“My most sincere and grateful thanks to the wonderful team at the Give A Mile program!
My name is Shelley Krastel, and I would like to share my experience with the amazing team at the Give A Mile flight program. Over the last month and a half, my family was put in a devastating situation that no one wants to be in. In mid-November, at the age of 68, my mom suffered an extensive brain hemorrhage on top of her brain stem. She was transported from Sicamous to Kamloops by the critical care team from the Kamloops Royal Inland Hospital where she remained for 28 days in the ICU and stroke unit.
My fiancé and I traveled back and forth from Calgary 3 times (each trip lasted 5 to 6 days) to meet with doctors and to provide mom with encouragement and support. We were informed by 2 neurosurgeons and 2 hospitalist doctors that she would never have a meaningful recovery. Despite our hopes and prayers, this proved to be true. On our third trip, we had come to terms with how devastating her brain injury was and made the decision to move her to a hospice facility.
We extended our stay in Kamloops to complete the necessary paperwork and coordinate the move between the hospital and the hospice. The wonderful staff at the Marjorie Willoughby Snowdon Hospice Home provided comfort and advice on how things would progress. Our flight home to Calgary was booked for December 13, and we needed to start making plans for a final trip back to Kamloops no later than December 16.
As her only daughter, I needed to be with my mom in her final days to provide her with the peace, safety, comfort and support of my presence. I know she would have been there for me.
Given the holiday season, airfare had become quite expensive. We discussed traveling by car (7 hours), but the forecast called for bad winter driving conditions. The roads between Calgary and Kamloops are notorious for avalanches and road closures. Over time, the cost of flights, hotels, car rentals and meals had exhausted our travel funds. The extra days we needed to stay and flight changes that were made due to mom’s fluctuating medical condition added to these costs. My fiancé had also been laid off from work as a steamfitter/pipefitter since the middle of October, so this further limited our funds.
The hospice staff was very quick to bring the Give A Mile program to our attention. We were amazed at this wonderful and generous program that could possibly help us. We contacted Kevin at the Give A Mile program and submitted our application on the afternoon of December 13 before we flew back to Calgary. Given our last-minute request and knowing that our application needed to go through the approval process, we were hopeful but not expectant. We received a wonderful surprise … a phone call on the morning of December 14 letting us know that we had been approved for a flight to Kamloops on December 15, and that we could wait to book our return flight until after mom had passed away! I can’t describe the overwhelming feeling of gratefulness and relief at having that huge burden lifted!
The support of the Give A Mile program allowed us to focus solely on mom’s care at the hospice. The team was compassionate and incredibly efficient. It was such a blessing that we were able to stay with mom for her final 2 days at the hospice before she sadly passed away on December 17. Words cannot express how thankful and grateful we are to the generous people and organizations that donate their time and miles, and to the entire team at Give a Mile! This is such a wonderful program! Thank you for your compassion and support at such a difficult time in our lives!