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AGENCY GIVES PATIENTS WINGS

Dear Ann Landers: It has been four years since you graciously mentioned AirLifeLine in your column and helped educate the public about our free air transportation program for financially needy patients. Your column was the best thing that ever happened to us. It gave us the ability to reach thousands of patients and caregivers who would not otherwise have known about our free patient air transportation program.

So much has happened since then. We have seen a 103 percent increase in our humanitarian flights -- not only saving lives, but extending and improving the quality of life for so many sick people across the country.

Our outreach goals have been enormously successful through the generous support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities, who awarded us a million-dollar grant in 1998 to help children and families.

In addition, our outreach partnership with the American Cancer Society has enabled us to help more cancer patients of all ages.

One example is Mike, a high school guidance counselor from Maine, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer and told by local doctors that surgery wasn't an option. However, after receiving a more encouraging prognosis from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Mike was required to travel to Boston for continuous treatment -- a long and painful journey. It wasn't until Mike learned about AirLifeLine that the picture became brighter. Although Mike passed away last Christmas, his treatments in Boston added 18 months to his life and enabled him to spend time with his newborn son.

Ann, there are many more people in this country who hope and wish for a free service like this. We could reach out to more people if your readers could know we are here to help patients in financial need get to their distant medical destination.

We can be contacted toll-free at (877) 247-5433, or visit our Web site at www.airlifeline.org.

-- Jon Wurtzburger, president
and volunteer pilot, AirLifeLine
Dear Jon: Thank you for the opportunity to mention this wonderful organization that provides free air transportation to patients who are ambulatory and cannot afford to fly elsewhere for treatment. Bless you.

Teach compassion

Dear Ann Landers: My 23-year-old nephew, "Maurice," has gotten his 18-year-old girlfriend pregnant, and the two of them have no plans to marry. Our family is embarrassed by this, and the girl's folks aren't too happy, either. Yet, the girl's parents are having a baby shower, and our entire family is invited.

I don't know whether or not I should attend. I have teenage daughters and do not want to give them the impression that I approve of such behavior. It could give them the idea that having a child out of wedlock entitles the girl to gifts and parties. If I don't go, however, how do I explain it to my nephew and his parents?

-- Morally Confused in Ohio
Dear Ohio: Do not punish the child because the parents made a mistake. Be gracious and attend the shower.

Explain to your teenage daughters that you do not approve of Maurice's situation, but his girlfriend is in a difficult position, and you feel sorry for her. Let them know, too, that the young couple will face a great many hardships because of this predicament and will need a lot of family support. Be compassionate instead of judgmental. Your daughters can learn a lot from the way you conduct yourself.

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