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GCI and Alaska Airlines donate air miles to American Cancer Society

Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 6:20 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - GCI and Alaska Airlines announced in a press release that they will donate one million air miles per year for three years to Alaskan cancer patients traveling for treatment, in partnership with the American Cancer Society.

Cancer treatment on its own can be an enormous obstacle for those battling the disease, but for people in rural Alaska, traveling to get to the treatment is an added complication. These three organizations are coming together to try to break down those travel barriers and make cancer treatments more accessible.

The program initially began in 2020 when oil and gas supermajor BP sold their Alaskan holdings to Hilcorp Alaska. BP then gifted Alaska Airlines one million gallons of fuel, who then turned around and donated that fuel to the American Cancer Society. External Affairs Manager for Alaska Airlines Tim Thompson discussed on the importance of giving back to residents in rural Alaskan communities.

“In the state of Alaska it’s very important to be able to provide that travel for their communities and our neighbors,” Thompson said. “We serve 19 communities here in the state of Alaska and only three of those are accessible by roads. So when we were looking at this program, one of the the things that we thought to ourselves is how do we make it easier for Alaskans to be able to get the treatment that they need in state and out of state.”

Thousands of Alaskans live in communities that are off the road system or outside of driving distance to a hospital, making commercial travel the only option for many to access treatment. Access to transportation can be a critical factor in determining whether cancer patients receive and complete their potentially life saving treatment. Senior Manager of Contributions and Events at GCI Megan Mazurek says that GCI is making the donation of air miles so that Alaskan cancer patients no longer have to worry about how they will get to treatment, and can focus on getting well.

“We can’t wait to the hear the stories of care from people going through the program and their success stories coming out on the other end,” said Mazurek.

Over the next three years, officials with Alaska Airlines estimates that this program can impact 600 to 700 Alaskan cancer patients.

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