Health & Wellness

Press Releases

Olson Mercy Flight Fund Celebrates Anniversary in Olean Area

Gail Olson (center) with flight nurses Brian Wilcox and Tom Sampson.

OLean, NY -- Gail Olson often found herself gazing into the skies as the orange Mercy Flight helicopters passed above.

That sense of wonder, coupled with the desire to give back and support the community, led to her establishing the Jim and Gail Olson Mercy Flight Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation in 2013.

“I reached a certain age and started thinking about organizations to support, and I kept thinking about the people that those Mercy Flight helicopters were helping,” Ms. Olson said.

Sign Up for E-News

Since its establishment in 2013, the fund has made possible over $3,000 in grants to Mercy Flight of Western New York. The grants are designated to help with any needs at the Olean hangar.

Ms. Olson established the endowment to support Mercy Flight in perpetuity throughout the life of the fund.

“Our Olean Hangar underwent some fairly extensive renovations in 2016 to continue to upgrade service and improve our crew’s working conditions,” said Amy Starck, Mercy Flight vice president of marketing and development. “A few items are still in process. The Olson Fund donations have helped to defray the costs of that project.”

Ms. Starck added that nonprofit emergency transport services similar to Mercy Flight have closed across the country, leading to dramatically higher costs and worse service for patients.

Mercy Flight helicopters can respond to emergency calls anywhere within about a 25-minute flight radius, which covers most of Western New York, said ­­Maria Stenzel, a flight nurse at the Olean base.

Pilots and nurses are prepared to be in the air within five to eight minutes after a call, she added.

Ms. Starck said that the support of donors like Ms. Olson is essential to upholding that quality service.

“It is the absolute truth to say that Mercy Flight could only operate the way it does thanks to its incredibly generous supporters,” said Ms. Starck. “The big heart of our community allows us to always put compassionate patient care first, as it should be in all aspects of healthcare.”

“I do not have a personal story where I was helped by Mercy Flight,” said Ms. Olson. “But for me it is all about spreading the word, because I am so grateful, and I feel safer for them being here.”

“The amazing thing about Ms. Olson’s story is that she never needed the services of Mercy Flight,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “But she saw the need and let her genuine curiosity blossom into a passion.”

“We need more people like her who let their interests develop into a real passion for doing and growing good in the community.”

Donations can be made to the Jim and Gail Olson Mercy Flight Fund at CRCF, 301 N. Union St., Suite 203, or online at

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email, or visit online at CRCF is also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Greater Olean

Bonnies Historic Season Will Give Community Source of Pride Years to Come

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY -- The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball season came to an end earlier than the team had hoped. Coaches looked disappointed, and players covered their faces with towels. St. Bonaventure’s (26-8) loss to Florida (21-12) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament left many thinking what if?

However, the Bonnies historic season is nothing for the team to ...

Sights and Sounds: The First Four of the NCAA Tournament

Traffic is a common occurrence, but for fans of the Dayton Flyers, it’s a usual event every gameday. A trip across the Great Miami River leads to the Flyers’ athletic complex. It became the same ritual for Bonnies fans heading to the University of Dayton Arena for the team's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012.

Snow, sleet and hail pounded down on the car as we ...

My Experience: What Almost Was Not

DAYTON, OHIO -- I almost didn’t get to shoot the game.

My media credential got all messed up because I neglected to go through one minor process (I’m an idiot lol and didn’t check my email). Luckily, some amazing people and friends helped push my name through, and I was granted media access to Tuesday's match against UCLA. For them, I am truly grateful and beyond ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, March 20, 12:30 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Brown Bag Book Club


Tue, March 20, 2:00 PM

Canticle Farm Market, Allegany

Canticle Farm Market

Tue, March 20, 6:00 PM

Olean Public Library, Olean

Celebrating Women Film Series: Osama

Arts & Entertainment

CRCF Community Fund Grant Applications Are Due April 21

March 16, 2018

Grant applications for the next funding cycle of the Community Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation are due April 21.

“The Community Fund is an unrestricted fund that allows the foundation’s board to approve grants responsive to the changing needs of the community,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “The grants, typically between $100 ...

Archbishop Walsh Academy to Host St. Patrick's Day Party and Raffle

OLEAN, NY -- Archbishop Walsh Academy and the Walsh Sports Boosters Club will host their annual St. Patrick’s Day Party and Raffle on Saturday, March 24, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Archbishop Walsh, 208 N. 24th St. The event welcomes over 700 guests and raises nearly $100,000 each year. It has become one of the school’s largest fundraisers, supporting ...

'A Day in the Life': One Transportation Supervisor Serves Portville and Olean

PORTVILLE, NY – A whiteboard with dozens of destinations and vehicle numbers written in various colors sits inside the Portville bus garage, ready to be changed at any moment. David Youngs, the transportation supervisor of the Portville and Olean School Districts, knows that before 2 almost every afternoon, he is likely to receive an email changing the entire meticulously planned ...

'A Day in the Life' Follows Della Moore of the African American Center for Cultural Development

OLEAN, NY – When Della Moore walks down the street, she greets everyone she passes and makes sure to ask, “How are you doing?” 

From the moment I joined her at the 7-Eleven on a cloudy, cold December morning until we finished making our stops along State and North Union streets, she remained ...

'Day in the Life' Follows Warehouse Selector Justus Elliot

OLEAN, NY -- For Justus Elliot, time and pace are essential. As a warehouse selector for Olean Wholesale Grocery Co-Op, most of the 21-year-old’s job calls for efficiency.

“Everything is time-based," Elliot explained. "One hundred percent is the norm, and it’s what we work for every day. If our score is less, then we are moving too slow, and we kick it into ...

Happy Veterans Day, Mom

What began as an attempt to boost her GPA soon turned into a 22-year career for my mom, Ramona Lee Discavage.

On the first day of her freshman year at St. Bonaventure University in 1989, members of the Army ROTC Seneca Battalion helped incoming freshmen move their stuff into their dorm rooms.  Afterward, they invited all of the freshmen to a lunch.

“When they described the ...

Lynn Kemp: ‘Best Soldier I Could Be’

Lynn Kemp is nearing 95 and knows he has lived a good life.

“The good Lord has been awful good to me,” recalled the lifelong resident of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania. “I never refused an order. I tried to be the best soldier I could be. I don’t know what your relationship is with God, but mine is pretty close.”

Born Oct. 29, 1920, Lynn grew up in a home on Turkey ...

WW II museum provides role models for young people

When Steve Appleby asks area students if they know Snoop Dog, Eminem, Kanye West, the Kardashians, Parris Hilton or Miley Cyrus, they answer yes. Then Appleby will ask which of them knows Jason Dunham is, and the students will not have a clue.

Appleby will explain that Jason Dunham was a Marine from Scio, in Allegany County, New York, who was killed in Iraq in 2006 after jumping on a grenade ...