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Retired Pilot Dell Fuller Finds New Purpose With Hope Alliance

Updated: Apr 26

An out-of-the-blue invitation nearly 15 years ago changed the course of Dell Fuller’s life. Would he be interested in joining an expedition to Guatemala to offer vision care to a small, underserved community? Fuller was retired from his career as an airline pilot, and though he didn’t know much about Hope Alliance, he was looking for a new purpose in life, and he accepted.

Right from the start, Fuller realized the profound impact volunteers can have by offering vision care to people who don’t have access. He still remembers one woman’s immense joy as she received a pair of glasses, allowing her to see clearly for the first time in years. She gave Fuller a long, tearful hug as she looked around excitedly, seeing everything anew. It was just a simple pair of glasses, yet it offered improvement on this woman’s entire life. Fuller was hooked!  

On another expedition in Guatemala, Fuller was moved again. “A local middle-aged indigenous man who didn't speak Spanish or English communicated with me using hand signs. He expressed his appreciation by pointing to the sky, making a reference to God, and then pointing to me… as if, you know, I had a direct connection with God that had given this guy his vision back.”

Back at home in Park City, Utah, Fuller had similar experiences.  Hope Alliance provided a pair of glasses to a middle-aged immigrant whose vision had been a lifelong challenge. “When he put those glasses on, tears ran down his cheeks,” Fuller says. “We went out in the parking lot and he was looking around and he told us that it was the first time in his life he'd ever seen a mountain. And that just blew me away.”

“Down deep in my core, I'm a humanitarian, and probably always have been,” Fuller says. “I just didn't recognize it.” His commitment to Hope Alliance only grew over time. “I've felt the most alive and with an acute sense of purpose when I've been in third world cultures performing humanitarian work,” he says. Fuller has volunteered for more than 30 vision expeditions over the past 15 years.

Dell Fuller and his wife Laine have lived in Park City for more than 40 years. They are parents to 4 children and 10 grandchildren, including an Iranian family they adopted 15 years ago. Fuller started his career as a Navy pilot, and then flew internationally for two major U.S. airlines for more than 30 years. He enjoyed exploring world cultures between flights. After hanging up his wings, Fuller dedicated himself to  amateur photography and humanitarian work. He has participated in every Hope Alliance vision expedition to Guatemala since its inception over 12 years ago, and he and Laine joined Hope Alliance on the first three vision expeditions to Uganda. Additionally, Fuller has served as Hope Alliance’s Board Chair and has volunteered at vision clinics in Park City and in Moab, Utah. 

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