Washington, DC – Esteemed doctor, pilot and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been awarded the National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA’s) 2011 Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership in recognition of his life-saving efforts worldwide, and the importance of business aviation to those endeavors.
An accomplished medical researcher and heart transplant surgeon, Dr. Frist was elected to the Senate representing Tennessee in 1994, the first practicing physician elected to the lawmaking body since 1928. During his two terms in office, Frist rose to the majority leader position faster than any previous senator while spearheading efforts to improve medical access for Americans and others worldwide, notably leading on bills like the Medicare Modernization Act and the passage of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). PEPFAR combats the spread of disease in resource-limited areas worldwide, and since its passage has provided life-saving anti-retroviral drug treatments to over 3.2 million people and counseling, testing and education to over 33 million to help prevent new infections. This ambitious program is often credited with saving a generation of Africans.
A true citizen-legislator, Frist has continued his regular medical mission trips worldwide since his retirement from the Senate in 2007. Frist – a pilot since the age of 16 and holder of multi-engine, commercial and instrument ratings – has consistently relied on aviation and his own piloting skills to expand his life-long commitment to healing to areas around the globe.
From using aviation night after night to personally transport hearts during his time-sensitive transplant procedures, to piloting planes throughout war-torn Sudan to perform surgery, Frist credits aviation as a powerful instrument for healing. Within days of the levees breaking in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, he flew his plane to care for those stranded. In flooded Bangladesh, he relied on floatplanes to ferry needed personnel and supplies on behalf of Save the Children and Samaritan’s Purse, and in 2010, he immediately flew to Haiti to perform surgery in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti.
“Bill Frist has combined his skill as an aviator with his expertise in medicine to reach people in need of life-saving treatment at home and all over the world,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “From piloting his own aircraft throughout Sudan to give surgical care, to using aviation to reach and treat victims days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the senator and doctor truly ‘walks the walk’ in assisting those most in need of help. He exemplifies the humanitarian spirit that’s always been a part of business aviation, and we are honored to recognize his pioneering work with this award.”
In his 2009 book Heart to Serve: The Passion to Bring Health, Hope, and Healing, Frist wrote about his belief that medicine unites the world in its common goal for peace. “People don’t usually go to war against someone who helped save their children,” he wrote. “While the world often sees America’s tougher side…when people see America’s more compassionate, humanitarian side, the barriers come down, and peace becomes a viable possibility.”
Established in 2006, NBAA’s Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership recognizes the spirit of service demonstrated by humanitarian leaders within the business aviation community. The award is named for Albert L. Ueltschi, who was instrumental in the development of ORBIS, an international non-profit organization dedicated to preventing blindness and saving sight.
The award will be presented to Frist at the Opening General Session for NBAA’s 64th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2011) in Las Vegas, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, October 10, 2011. The full Convention will be held Monday, October 10 through Wednesday, October 12.
Past recipients of the Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership include Cessna Aircraft Company (2006), the Veterans Airlift Command (2007), Corporate Angel Network (2008), and the Civil Air Patrol (2009). Last year, the Association honored humanitarians throughout the business aviation community for their efforts in providing relief efforts following the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010.