The Spirit of Giving

During the holiday season, we are all reminded of what a joy it is to give, and also, how much joy a gift can bring. We’re a bit spoiled at Angel Flight West, since facilitating the giving of our volunteer pilots is our daily work. About 10 times each day, an Angel Flight West volunteer gives of himself or herself to provide transportation to someone else in need.

We’d like to share a letter that we received from a recent passenger as a reminder of how powerful and meaningful a gift can be. It was a great way for us to end the year, and we hope you enjoy it as well.


I am so incredibly grateful and humbled by people more often lately than I ever have in my life. If there is a bright side to cancer, it is that it can really reveal the true kindness and generosity of not only the people close to you, but of strangers-especially when we live in such a world today that is viewed as cruel and strangers not to be trusted. I am lucky enough to have witnessed a silver lining to that many times in the last couple of years that I have been battling cancer, but none so great involving complete strangers as my treatment situation 2 weeks ago.

My bi-monthly treatments for stage 4 Kidney Cancer take place through a study being done in L.A. I am living in Southern Utah, so getting to California every 2 weeks for my appointments can be quite a task. I try to drive, but I don’t have the best car to put all the wear and tear on and of course, along with hotel stay and food in California, the gas and occasional rental car costs can add up (not to mention taking that drive every other weekend is just plain tiring!) I am a recent college grad and also just moved away from my whole life in Chicago to Utah recently, so funds for all of these unforeseeable treatment costs aren’t exactly available to say the least. Needless to say, I need help.¬†

This is why I decided to submit to Angel Flight West to see if I could get ride every once in a while to treatments to save time and costs. My last treatment, I was lucky enough not only to have my father from Chicago there with me, but also that the wonderful Rod McDermott voluntarily picked up my request. We had a delightful, easy flight with this incredibly kind man and were able to get to L.A. in time for my appointment. Unfortunately, complications still often arise with these appointments. One was that we needed a place to stay for under $100 for the night (my treatment study will only reimburse up to $100/night for a hotel) and we were also worried that we would not have a way back home. The weather was bad, so no pilot could pick up my requested flight home, and renting a car in one state and driving it to another would create costs that I just could not afford. Even as a cancer patient, I also have to work, and I could not afford to wait out the the weather in California and stay for days until the storms passed. 

However, the generosity of strangers was about to surprise me again. Rod, my pilot, called the Westin Bonaventure and the gracious people at the beautiful hotel were able to accommodate my father and I for the night. Then Mark DiLullo, the owner of Threshold Aviation, got word of my situation and offered a private driver to take us back all the way to Southern Utah the next day. I could not believe my luck and the immense generosity of all of these people I had never met. I am so thankful that everything worked out so perfectly for me for this originally stressful appointment; I only wish that there was a way I could repay these amazing people and businesses.

What I can do at this moment is write this short letter, humbly thanking the people who were so selfless as to help me out: Angel Flight West, Rod McDermott, Mark DiLullo and Threshold Aviation, the Westin Bonaventure, and the incredibly kind man who drove us all the way from L.A. to California (I feel terrible that I cannot remember his name, because I will always remember his sweet personality and deed.) I only hope that others see this and know what good they did, what good people they all are. Again, thank you.

 Melanie