DALLAS, Aug. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) invites nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations to apply for the 2015 Medical Transportation Grant Program. The program is designed to ease the financial burden on families confronting serious medical problems that require travel for treatment. Southwest donates roundtrip airline tickets to nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations in the program, and empowers the organizations to distribute the tickets to patients as they see best based on individuals' needs. In 2014, Southwest donated more than $2.8 million in complimentary airfare through the program. Hospitals and medical transportation charities can apply by visiting http://www.southwest.com/medicalgrant now through Tuesday, Sept. 30.
"At Southwest, everything we do is from the heart. Our Medical Transportation Grant Program is no different, as we embrace those individuals and families who require critical and specialized treatment," said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines' Vice President Communication and Outreach. "From lessening the financial burden on families needing to travel for treatment to partnering with medical organizations, we are proud of the many ways this program is making a positive difference in the lives of our neighbors and the communities we serve."
The Medical Transportation Grant Program began as a response to a need that was repeatedly expressed to Southwest—families facing serious illnesses needed to travel for treatment. When the Medical Transportation Grant Program launched in 2008, Southwest donated 1,700 tickets to 13 hospitals and organizations. What started as a small effort to make a difference has grown into a nationwide movement, benefiting thousands of individuals and hundreds of communities. Southwest has donated more than $13.2 million in free airfare since the program began seven years ago. Last year, Southwest's Medical Transportation Grant Program served patients seeking medical treatment at nearly 100 hospitals and organizations nationwide, including the internationally-recognized Shepherd Center.
"Southwest's Medical Transportation Grant Program has been a tremendous benefit to our patients and their families," said Gary R. Ulicny, Ph.D, President and CEO at Shepard Center. "With catastrophic injuries, it is essential for a patient's loved ones to be part of the rehabilitation and recovery process. This program provides that opportunity for families who might otherwise not be able to afford the travel costs."More than 33,000 patients' lives have been positively impacted through this unique program. Read personal stories of patients who have benefitted from the Medical Transportation Grant Program on the NUTS About Southwest blog. Each participating hospital and nonprofit has unique guidelines for the administration of tickets. To learn about qualifications for travel assistance, please contact the specific hospital or nonprofit organization.