By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
Teterboro, the oldest operating airport in the New York/New Jersey region, serves as a vital gateway for the families of thousands of cancer patients who are seeking lifesaving treatments all over the country, thanks to the efforts of the Corporate Angel Network (CAN).
Since its inception in 1981, CAN has facilitated some 50,000 flights for cancer patients. with about 5,000 flights flying in and out of Teterboro since 1982. CAN marked a major milestone in April when the company flew its 50,000th cancer patient.
That flight originated from Teterboro. The patient, one-year-old Baron Yerby, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer, at the age of 3 months. CAN reached the 50,000–flight milestone when it transported Baron and his family back home to Atlanta after he received cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City.
Baron’s father, Johnathan, is grateful to the people at CAN because he doesn’t have the added stress of worrying about flight logistics. Were it not for the angel flights, the family typically would have to fly commercially and Baron would sit on his parent’s lap the entire flight. “So it’s also a great deal easier and more comfortable for Baron, too,” he said.
The family will be flying back to Teterboro Airport on May 15th because Baron is scheduled for medical procedures. “We are so thankful for everyone involved,” said Johnathan. “CAN is really living up to the “Angel” portion of the network.”
CAN is the only charitable organization in the United States whose sole mission is to arrange transportation for treatment for cancer patients using seats that are donated on corporate aircraft. More than 500 major corporations participate. The organization arranges an average of 225 patient flights each month to cancer centers.
Teterboro, the general aviation relief airport for the New York metropolitan area, handles the lion’s share of the region’s smaller business jets. A relief airport provides additional capacity to an area when the primary airports are at capacity. Teterboro is one of four such facilities in the New York/New Jersey area.
“We waive the landing fees for these flights in support of the angel flight program,” said Renee Spann, General Manager of Teterboro, “It’s a small amount, but we’re happy to do it because every little bit makes a difference.” Every part of the angel flight operation depends upon the generosity of others; even the pilots donate their time.
“Having flown 50,000 cancer patients to specialized and often life-saving treatment using empty seats in corporate jets already flying to the desired destinations is a remarkable milestone for our organization,” said CAN’s Executive Director Emeritus, Peter H. Fleiss.
“We want to let cancer patients know that they have an option to travel to the best possible treatment for their specific type of cancer while at the same time, making their lives, and the lives of their families, considerably less stressful during a very difficult time,” Fleiss said. “We also hope to bring new corporate partners into the fold to expand our ability to help more people.”