NBAA Convention News

Business aviation companies embrace fundraising efforts

 - October 6, 2008, 8:26 AM

Helping others has a long tradition in aviation and continues today with the Corporate Angel Network, Angel Flight, NBAA Build and the Chairman’s Charity Classic Golf Tournament, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and many others. Here at the convention, Universal Weather and Aviation (Booth No. 219) is talking about two charitable opportunities it is supporting.

The first has a decidedly aviation bent. Pilots CarolAnn Garratt and Carol Foy plan to make an around-the-world record flight in Garratt’s Mooney this December. The trip will raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or more commonly, Lou Gehrig’s disease), a progressive fatal neurodegenerative disease that afflicts more than 350,000 people worldwide and has no cure.

“Our goal for this trip is not just to raise funds but also awareness for ALS,” said Garratt, whose mother died from the disease. “Currently no for-profit pharmaceutical companies are working on a cure for this disease–just nonprofits.” Garratt has raised more than $80,000 for ALS research with speaking engagements and her book, Upon Silver Wings. A family member of Foy’s was diagnosed with the disease last year.

Universal is providing free weather services and ground-handling coordination for the ALS World Flight, which is planned to make just eight refueling stops over seven days and 140 flight hours. To pledge to sponsor a mile or more of the trip at $10 per mile or $5,000 for a stop, and to view all stages of the flight, log on to

On a more personal note for Universal, one its own employees plans to run a 250-kilometer, seven-day ultramarathon in the Atacama Desert in Chile in March to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which has the goal of finding a cure for type-1 diabetes. Simon Wade, a safety trainer with Universal Aviation (UK), after returning from his first ultramarathon in Brazil in 2006, learned that his daughter had been diagnosed with incurable type-1 diabetes. “The news sideswiped me and I lost interest in everything,” said Wade. “I stopped training.”

About a year after the diagnosis, Marjorie Evans, vice chairman of Universal and also head of the company’s employee and community relations efforts, told Wade that Universal wanted to sponsor him if he did another event. After researching several organizations, Wade, 42, settled on the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. His goal is to raise £20,000 (about $35,000).

To sponsor Wade, log on to