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July 27, 2011

ULM Alumna Hope Anderson announces Pilots for Patients as Miss Louisiana 2011 platform

Hope Anderson, a University of Louisiana at Monroe alum (B.A., '10) and recently crowned Miss Louisiana 2011, officially declared the Pilots for Patients program as her platform on Wednesday, July 27, at the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe.

The announcement was in conjunction with the program's celebration of its 1,000th Mission, which was completed on Monday and in which Anderson participated.

Anderson shared how special it was to celebrate her 23rd birthday by flying with Lenece Laseter, a Monroe resident and breast cancer patient, as Laseter received treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston.

"To be able to spend my birthday with you was just a wonderful gift," said Anderson, looking toward Laseter, who was among several patients attending Wednesday's celebration.

Anderson said she had been working with Pilots for Patients since its inauguration in January 2008 and that being Miss Louisiana gives her "an even bigger voice" in which to promote the non-profit organization.

The program provides free flights for patients needing medical services outside the region by pairing them with volunteer pilots.

There are currently 75 active pilots in Louisiana on the program's roster who have logged over 346,000 miles since its inception, and who have averaged nearly one flight a day since its beginnings.

The organization's president, Philip Thomas, made clear on Wednesday that the program continues to evolve, but is all about maintaining the right balance between the three "P's" - patrons, patients and pilots.

"I would say its taking off, but that would kind of be a pun," said Thomas, as audience members laughed with him.

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