There’s an Angel on the Cockpit

January 11, 2010 No comments » [ssba]

Claudio Ponte

If you have checked out our Blog, Facebook page, or prior newsletters, you know we are always busy working with local charities. Our food pantry initiatives, our involvement with Rancho Damacitas, our service days at Oak Grove all have in common our basic rule of charitable giving: Ponte Winery limits its contributions to local children who are suffering. We leave other worthy causes (healthy children, sick adults, health research, foreign countries, etc.) to our many colleagues in wine country.

Several years ago, our Marketing Manager Ragan Erickson asked if our winery would be willing to contribute some wine to Angel Flight West, a worthy cause involving airplanes. Ragan urged me to check them out since it is often children they are transporting. Luckily I did, and we have been supporting them for four years.

Angel Flight West arranges free, non-emergency air transportation to patients and their families who cannot afford it, using a network of 1,900 pilots who volunteer their time and their aircraft. Each mission averages $400 in out-of pocket costs, all donated by the pilot. Since the founding of Angel Flight West in 1983, their generous pilots have flown 40,000 missions!

One mission that touched my heart in particular was Taylor’s story. As an infant, Taylor was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the retina of the eye. By the time she was two years old, the doctors urged her family to begin treatment. The best treatment available was at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, quite the distance from Saratoga Springs, Utah where her family resided. In addition to the distance and financial burden these frequent treatments would cost, it was essential that Taylor not be exposed to any germs or viruses after the treatment was complete — so traveling through airports or sitting on a commercial jet with 200 other passengers was not an option.

Taylor’s family came across Angel Flight West while searching for options online. In a thank you note to the pilot and organization, Taylor’s father wrote: “You’ve done so much more than provide transportation; you’ve given us the life of our daughter!”

I am proud to personally contribute financially to this very worthy cause, in addition to serving Ponte wine at their fundraisers. For more information about Angel Flight West, visit their website at

Posted by , January 11, 2010 No comments

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