Vermont

‘Gratitude is my Religion:' Thankful Vt. Cancer Survivor Launching Aviation Nonprofit

Beth White survived an aggressive form of breast cancer

NBC Universal, Inc.

I used to say, ‘Gratitude is my religion,’” Beth White said Thanksgiving morning as the hobbyist pilot prepared for a flight from the Franklin County State Airport in Highgate.

A woman from Vermont’s Franklin County is pledging to live every day as if it is Thanksgiving, expressing deep gratitude to be alive and channeling that energy into uplifting youth through a new nonprofit.

“I used to say, ‘Gratitude is my religion,’” Beth White said Thanksgiving morning as the hobbyist pilot prepared for a flight from the Franklin County State Airport in Highgate. “And this definitely confirmed that for me.”

White is a breast cancer survivor who faced eight rounds of chemotherapy and more than two dozen radiation treatments. In December 2021, NECN & NBC10 Boston were outside the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, when friends and family organized what they called a “caravan of caring.”  Their goal that day was to boost White ahead of her double mastectomy — one of several surgeries she’d need.

“I’m super grateful for that light,” White recalled Thursday, thinking back on the many shows of support she had from loved ones throughout her breast cancer journey.

White, an educator, artist, and aviation enthusiast, is now cancer-free.

“This Thanksgiving, I am done [with treatments], and I’m celebrating,” White beamed. “I’m so grateful for these amazing healthcare workers, my hair is growing back, [and] I’m having delicious meals with friends and family.”

More than just leaving her thankful for her good health, the experience sparked in this survivor new energy to launch a nonprofit called Habitat for Aviation.

“It’s afforded me a new outlook on life,” White said of how her cancer experience inspired her to launch the nonprofit.

Habitat for Aviation will give young people mentorship and hands-on education to help prepare them for careers maintaining aircraft and their systems, White explained.

“I’ve been given so much and I’ve been given another chance, and it’s just really important to do all that I can to take advantage of the limited time I have on the planet to do good work in the world,” White said.

Encouraging kids to take their passions literally to new heights is how Beth White said she plans to live the meaning of Thanksgiving year round: giving thanks by giving back.

“Then I will have lived a good life,” White said, smiling.