Missoula businessman Michael Burks contacted KGVO News on Wednesday to announce the partnership of Angel Flight West, private pilots who transport children to medical facilities throughout the west, with the Jadyn Fred Foundation, providing financial support to families facing serious health issues.

Burks provided details about Angel Flight West.

“Angel Flight West is a program that was established quite a few years ago out of Southern California, and basically its premise is to help fly families in need that don't have the funds that require repetitive trips to hospitals and follow up visits,” said Burks. “Most of the patients that I fly are usually kids, which makes it extremely difficult with kids aged six months to 18 years.”

Burks was named the top flyer last year in the Angel Flight West, and has helped the program to grow substantially.

“Last year in the state of Montana, I was the top flier and it was the third time in the four years that I've been flying, which is really cool,” he said. “But the best part about here in Montana is that when I started we had two active pilots, and since I become the wing leader of the state, we now have over 20 active pilots in the state.”

Burks described the new partnership with the Jadyn Fred Foundation.

“If a family qualified due to having a tragic situation like a sick child with cancer, The Jaydn Fred Foundation will distribute funds to help them,” he said. “In the past, people have immediately taken those funds and spent it with Delta or Alaska (airlines), which completely contradicts the entire purpose of Angel Flight.”

Burks said the partnership between Angel Flight and the Jadyn Fred Foundation will help families use those funds much more effectively.

“Angel Flight and the Jadyn Fred Foundation are working together,” he said. “If you get money from Jadyn Fred, you can utilize that money for a hotel stay or food instead of airline tickets. Our biggest goal in 2021 is to make every hospital, every family in need, understand that we don't want them spending any money on any airline travel. We want to make sure they understand that Angel flight is out there to take care of that small piece of the puzzle.”

Burks, also owner of all the Fuel Fitness Centers in Montana, has arranged for a billboard on Brooks near the Holiday Village to promote the new partnership.

“I’ll start having billboards all around every city in which Fuel Fitness has a location,” he said. “So, March 15, there will be a billboard across the street from Fuel on Brooks, where it has all the information for both organizations so that people now will see it as they're driving, to hopefully get that word out as well.”

Burks said the Lamar company made billboards available at a special price, due to the nonprofit status of Angel Flight and the Jadyn Fred Foundation.

To find out more about the two organizations and how families can benefit, visit this website.


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