Bridging the gap between dreams and reality for deserving sports fans: Air Canada Foundation and Air Canada Fan Flight Program
Jun 04, 2024

Rallying behind your favourite sports team can build community, resilience and a sense of belonging for fans. Due to many barriers however, some fans are limited to supporting their favourite teams virtually from a screen. This year, that changed for eight deserving children from across the country thanks to a partnership between the Air Canada Fan Flight program and the Air Canada Foundation.

Piper, age 13, joined the Air Canada Fan Flight from Calgary to New York alongside her sister and parents to support their favourite hockey team on the road. The three-day trip included surprises like team swag, meet and greets with special guests and a game day experience from a suite equipped with food and beverage.

Since 2018, the Air Canada Fan Flight program has been recognizing Canadian sports fans for their unwavering support to our country’s teams by providing them with a unique experience to support their favourite basketball or hockey team on the road. This year, the Air Canada Foundation worked with its partners HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society) Hockey and Starlight Children’s Foundation® Canada to award eight children with the experience and the chance to create unforgettable memories in a new city with their families.

“Fan Flight will go down as a trip of a lifetime that we will never forget, down to the littlest things like the van that picked us up with the wheelchair lift,” said Emily, Piper’s mom. “The game was fabulous, it was amazing and so exciting, and the box was like the coolest thing ever.”

Piper was selected through a partnership with HEROS Hockey where she has been a valued member and teammate the last four seasons. Living with cerebral palsy and global development delays means she spends most of her days in a wheelchair or using a walker to get around. She is the first SuperHEROS player, and one of the first girls in North America to use a Kaye Trainer to take part in hockey. The Kaye Trainer is a suspension walker that allows her to play hockey in an upright position. Piper shows us all that muscular and brain conditions are not barriers to playing the game.  

“Piper is so much more than a sister, she’s also my best friend,” said Brynn, Piper’s sister. “I think she really teaches me and other people that you don’t have to be like everybody else to be equal and worthy of the same things, and the Air Canada Foundation really wants people to reach for their dreams without barriers. Reaching for your dreams can show you the true potential of who you want to be and who you will become.”

A lifelong dream to visit New York City together, this special trip made more than one dream come true for the sister duo.

“As part of our mission and commitment to the health and well-being of children, the Air Canada Foundation continues to prioritize efforts that ignite hope and create meaningful memories for children that face adversity in Canada,” Valérie Durand, spokesperson for the Air Canada Foundation. “Whether it’s financial or medical challenges, we believe creating moments of hope is what inspires children to see past their adversities and continue fighting for their future. We thank our wonderful partners for helping to bring this unique experience to such inspiring and deserving kids and their families.”

Piper was one of eight children who were selected through HEROS Hockey and Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada for the 2024 Fan Flight experience. Fan Flights departed from Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montréal, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The Air Canada Foundation is a Canadian registered charity focused on improving children’s health and well-being. Through its main pillars, the Foundation helps kids spread their wings. More information about the Air Canada Foundation and its mission can be found at