Corporate Angel Network is the only charitable organization in the United States whose sole mission is to help cancer patients access the best possible treatment for their specific type of cancer by arranging free travel to treatment across the country using empty seats on corporate jets. This not only improves the patients’ chances of survival but at the same time, it reduces their emotional stress, physical discomfort, and financial burden.
On Dec. 22, 1981, Safe Flight Instrument Corp. conducted the first Corporate Angel Network (CAN) flight from White Plains, NY to Detroit, MI, taking home for Christmas a young cancer patient who had visited a bone cancer specialist at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Now, 35 years later, the organization, which was the brainchild of recovering cancer patients Pat Blum and Jay Weinberg and the late Safe Flight President Leonard Greene, serves thousands of cancer patients a year in need of transportation to specialized treatment.
CAN, which is based at New York’s Westchester County Airport (HPN), helps patients access the best treatment by arranging free travel using empty seats on business aircraft. This improves the patients’ chances of survival and reduces their emotional stress, physical discomfort, and financial burden. Using 35 volunteers and a small paid staff, CAN arranges more than 2,500 flights a year and recently completed its 51,000th patient flight.
Honeywell has been involved with CAN since 1983, and Brett Ferrucci, manager of aircraft scheduling and dispatch, said the company has a strong desire to help those in need.
“There is a great sense of satisfaction when you can help someone who is desperately in need of transportation to and from their medical treatments,” said Ferrucci. “Being involved with CAN requires minimal effort. CAN understands the ever-changing schedule of a busy flight department. They always maintain strict confidentiality, and their associates are always pleasant to deal with.”
CAN’s Executive Director Gina Russo wants to leverage her experience in cancer care to help CAN serve even more patients.
“Although there are treatment centers throughout the country, there are cutting-edge clinical trials and specialized treatment that are only available at select locations,” she said. “It’s important for CAN to stay on top of what trials are happening around the country so we can get patients to treatment sites where novel therapies are being studied.”