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New Corporate Angel Network Director Appreciates NBAA’s Support

Jan. 9, 2013

During Peter H. Fleiss’ 14-year tenure as executive director of the Corporate Angel Network (CAN), the organization tripled the number of cancer patients flown to treatment centers in the empty seats of business aircraft, and corporate participation has increased to nearly 600 flight departments.

When Fleiss assumes the position of director emeritus on Jan. 20, Dick Koenig, former publisher of Flying magazine, will continue to build on his good work as CAN’s new executive director.

NBAA has been a strong supporter of CAN since its founding in 1981, said Fleiss. The two organizations “have a terrific relationship,” he said. “I don’t know how it could get any better.”

Beyond their shared membership, NBAA has raised money for the charitable organization through galas and golf tournaments. In 2009, the two organizations built upon their relationship through the NBAA/CAN Soiree, the exclusive CAN fundraiser held on the second day of NBAA’s annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition.

“We’ve always been proud to support the Corporate Angel Network,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The organization’s mission is critically important, and it demonstrates the readiness of companies all across America to utilize their aircraft in support of CAN’s life-saving work to help cancer patients get the treatment they need. We thank Peter for his effective work with NBAA over the years, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors. We also look forward to working with our long-time friend Dick as he takes on his new role with the organization.”

Flight department participation is the key to increasing the number of cancer patients CAN serves, said Koenig, who was a member of the organization’s board of directors from 2004 until he assumed his new position. Complicating the connection between the patients and their transportation is their diverse points of departure for upwards of 30 destinations that are home to the major cancer treatment centers, such as M.D. Anderson, Sloan Kettering, Mayo, and Hopkins, he said.

With a staff of six and 30 volunteers, CAN arranges the round-trip logistics for an average of 250 patients a month, said Fleiss. This ranges from ground transportation and medical clearances that ensure the patient can board the aircraft unassisted and does not need life-support equipment, to scheduling every facet of the trip, including the patient’s airport rendezvous to the treatment center appointment.

Helping 3,000 cancer patients a year is a significant number, he said, but it’s only half of the patients who register for CAN transportation.

“I’m picking up on the marvelous job Peter has done,” said Koenig, adding that the director emeritus will contribute his experience and knowledge for some time to come. “There are about a dozen different ingredients we’re working on to improve this percentage and increase CAN’s nationwide reach.”

First among them is increasing the number of flight departments that offer their empty seats to patients whose needs are beyond their local cancer treatment options. As it has been from the start, agreed Fliess and Koenig, CAN “is immensely appreciative of NBAA’s support of these humanitarian efforts.”