The first annual Endeavor Awards Gala was presented by Angel Flight West at the Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Pavilion at the California Science Center, Sunday evening, May 4, 2014.
“We have lift-off on our cross-country journey to let America know about the work of volunteer pilots. The 2014 Endeavor Awards is the first leg on this journey to tell the stories of saving and improving lives through the gift of flight,” said Mark Wolper, President & Executive Producer of The Wolper Organization at Warner Bros. and Chair of the Endeavor Awards Host Committee.
Master of ceremonies, Airshow Ace Sean Tucker presided over a glittering evening of entertainment, excitement and emotion as 380 rapt audience members celebrated Public Benefit Aviation. There were movie and tv stars, astronauts, legendary aviators, performing musicians, and an aerialist aloft who presented an ‘Adagio to Amelia Earhart.’
Most importantly, there were the three Endeavor Award winners, volunteer pilots selected through nominations and votes by their peers around the country. Each Endeavor Award winner received his award from a person he had helped by giving the gift of flight.
Joe Howley, co-founder, president and chairman of the board at Patient Airlift Services, was honored for his 15 years as a volunteer pilot and fundraiser for public benefit flight. Upon accepting his award from “Wounded Warrior” Michael Barrett, Howley told the audience that the true heroes are the patients he flies to treatment, those who bravely continue to fight for their lives.
Joe DeMarco, Sr, a volunteer pilot who founded Wings Flights of Hope, has flown 1,165 missions in his 10 years of flying for public benefit. One of the patients he flew is a young boy named Luke, who was in attendance at the gala and said he would not have been able to get his new lungs were it not for DeMarco’s efforts.
Jeff Hendricks, a volunteer pilot for both the Veterans Airlift Command and Angel Flight West, has provided free transportation to wounded service personnel and people in critical need of medical treatment. Like all volunteer pilots, Hendricks also provides his aircraft, fuel and expenses when he volunteers for these humanitarian missions.
The Santa Monica Airport-based charity, Angel Flight West (AFW) initiated and funded the inaugural Endeavor Awards gala to tell the stories of volunteer pilots to a nationwide audience.
“The purpose was to dramatically raise awareness for charity flying and to break even on the investment in the first event,” said Josh Olson, Executive Director of AFW. “The proceeds are still coming in, but approximately $200,000 was raised.”
“Our Second Annual Endeavor Awards Gala in 2015 will provide other volunteer pilot organizations the opportunity to raise funds and broaden awareness of the great work they do,” said Wolper.