Members of Cummins’ Corporate Aviation team gather in from of the Company’s aircraft.
Posted: November 2014
Cummins’ Director of Aviation Chris Raskob says helping cancer patients and their families access the care they need can be an emotional experience for him and his team.
“Sometimes we fly the same person to and from multiple treatments so you get to know what they are going through,” Raskob said. “Helping someone in a difficult situation like that can be tremendously rewarding, but you feel for the patients and their families, too.”
CAN – Corporate Angel Network – reduces the emotional stress and the physical and financial burden on families with a loved one fighting cancer by arranging for free travel to health care using empty seats on corporate aircraft.
By working with 560 of America’s top corporations including Cummins, the White Plains, N.Y. based group has coordinated more than 46,000 flights since it was founded in 1981 (to learn more, go to CAN’s website at www.corpangelnetwork.org).
CAN awarded Cummins its Corporate Angel Network Award for Excellence in 2014, citing the Company’s work ferrying cancer patients and their families to places in the United States such as Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla. and New York for specialized care. Cummins has conducted 31 patient flights in the past five years, ranking it among the top 5 percent of CAN flight providers.
“Corporate flight departments like Cummins are the life blood of CAN’s world,” said Dick Koenig, Executive Director of the network. “Without them, CAN doesn’t exist. With them, especially operations like Cummins because Cummins flies cancer patients as often as they can, those flight departments provide the vital transportation link for patients to be able to travel to and from their life saving treatment centers free and in the comfort of available empty seats on corporate jet aircraft.”
Raskob said while the Company has officially been part of the network since 2007, Cummins has been using its aircraft to make humanitarian flights dating back to the Company’s legendary Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, the late J. Irwin Miller.
Back in the 1950s and 60s when Miller was leading the Company, Cummins was flying a DC 3. Today, the Company’s shuttle to Cummins facilities around the U.S. is a 19-passenger Dornier 328 jet. Cummins has purchased a 30-seat Embraer 135LR, which is expected to go into service in early 2015. This new aircraft will allow the addition of shuttle flights to Mexico.
Cancer patients have flown with everyone from rank and file Cummins employees to members of the Board of Directors. Most patients or family members have had some connection to Columbus, Indiana, where the Company’s headquarters is located, but that’s not always the case.
While the flights can be happy occasions when someone is returning home after beating cancer, they can be somber, too.
Raskob remembers a CAN flight where the Cummins team brought a cancer patient home for what he and his family knew would be his final Christmas.
“We knew what the individual was facing,” Raskob said. “So we just pulled together and got the job done. But that was hard for everyone.”
Thankfully, Raskob said, those flights don’t happen very often.
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