Angel Flight Central’s Don Sumple on How Volunteering Can Add More Meaning to Your Life

angel flight

We’ve talked many times on this podcast about the most effective ways to use your time and money to create real, lasting happiness. One of the great joys of my life has been working with Angel Flight Central, a volunteer organization that provides free transportation to folks whose medical and financial needs make commercial travel impossible.

I was so honored when Angel Flight appointed me to its board earlier in the year. Working with their leadership team to further the group’s mission has let me put my love of flying and business background to their highest possible uses. Angel Flight has also given me the great pleasure of working with an extraordinary group of devoted and big-hearted folks, including my guest on today’s podcast, CEO and Executive Director Don Sumple.

On this special episode of Keen on Retirement, Don talks about his transition from a successful broadcasting and media career to running a nonprofit organization. We also explore Angel Flight’s mission and how Don views retirement. Hopefully, this conversation will give you a new perspective on how reaching out into your community can make any stage of your life more rewarding.

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The Angel Flight Central Mission.

“We arrange charitable flights for people that have to go outside their geographic area for medical treatment,” Don explains. “We also do humanitarian flights. In March, we did 107 relief missions up in Nebraska and Iowa because of the flooding. We got people out of harm’s way, we took supplies in. We’re gearing up right now for summer camps for kids that have HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart disease, or are burn victims. The camps are free. Unfortunately, the parents and guardians can’t afford to get the kids there. So, our pilots will take the kids up to camp. We also reunite military personnel with their families when they come back to the States.”

Angel Flight pilots are all volunteers who meet strict FAA requirements. In our past fiscal year, we flew 2,667 flights. Since its founding in 1995, we’ve flown over 27,000 flights. We have over 300 pilots in our 10-state region and we have close to 300 volunteers coordinating our work on the ground.

Who is Angel Flight for?

Angel Flight primarily provides transportation for folks who cannot afford to fly commercially to get the medical care that they need. For example, Don recalled a woman who contacted the organization about her son’s battle with brain cancer.

“She was in a rural area,” Don says, “The best shot for treatment was at Duke University Hospital, in North Carolina. She went online and looked for round-trip tickets. I think it was going to be about $1,000 per person and she knew she would have to take her child numerous times for treatment. Her husband did not have a job and she was making minimum wage. She had three or four other children at home, and she was thinking, ‘Okay, I have to pay this airfare. How am I going to keep a roof over my family’s head, food on the table, clothes on their backs?’”

Helping folks in need maintain their quality of life during these kinds of medical emergencies is a big part of Angel Flight’s mission. However, the organization will also arrange flights for folks who can’t drive or fly commercially due to things like autoimmune problems.

How to help.

Angel Flight Central is always looking for FAA-certified pilots who are willing to make at least one charitable flight every two years. If you’re outside the Midwest, you can check out our national umbrella, the Air Charity Network, to find the Angel Flight organization in your area.

But Angel Flight is not just for pilots! We have volunteer opportunities at every level of the organization. And one of our greatest needs is just folks getting the word out to anyone we could help.

“We’re an under-the-radar organization, excuse the pun,” Don says. “There’s a lot of people out there that can use our services but have no clue we exist. So any way we can get people to talk about the organization and our mission is incredible. Touching base with your churches, your civic organizations, the Rotary Club, for example would be so helpful. If you go to a doctor, talking to them about the organization and letting them know that one of their patients may be able to benefit from our services is key. Social workers and nurse case managers would also be great people to discuss our organization with. Heightening the awareness in those particular areas is really crucial to us to get our name and our brand out there so we can help as many people as we possibly can.”

I’d like to thank Don Sumple for coming on the show, and I’d like to thank all my friends and colleagues at Angel Flight Central for the fantastic work they’re doing. I hope you’ll consider going to Angel Flight Central’s website and explore the ways you can help.

And I encourage anyone at or nearing retirement age to think about the causes and charities that are important to you. Replacing your old work schedule with a volunteer routine that keeps your skills sharp and your heart open can help to make your retirement that much more fulfilling.

Angel Flight Central Serving Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois.

Air Charity Network Connect with Angel Flight in your area.

Bill Keen: Working with Angel Flight Central has been one of the great joys of my life.

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About Bill

Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

Keen Wealth Advisors is a Registered Investment Adviser. Nothing within this commentary constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Keen Wealth Advisors manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed here. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  

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