STARS supporters, Tyson Parker & friends offered their services for one day as a Live Auction item
City of Leduc, AB – On Saturday September 29th, a lively crowd got together in the City of Leduc with one goal in mind: to keep STARS in the sky! The Tyson Parker Commitment To Life STARS benefit is the gigantic fundraising initiative accomplished in this capital region to support and herald the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society, a publicly-funded air ambulance service.
Alea Cox (née Thomas), was a Leduc County resident, and a happy young wife on the threshold of a great career who was on her way to a golf date with her parents: when the car she was riding in lost control and hit the ditch, Alea was trapped inside for a while, and was later transported by STARS to an Edmonton hospital where she stayed for a brief, miraculous time. Despite a minor brain injury, and with a strong prayer chain behind her, she resumed a full life and is now the mother of a precious toddler. Alea is a passionate and articulate supporter of STARS, and her speech touched many hearts in the room!
Michelle Salt (née Vrolyk) was an athletic, young business lady raised in Leduc County, the Town of Calmar and the City of Leduc, with a Calgary real estate career she loved. When her new motorcycle took her on a spectacular crash on a Cochrane highway, her survival was not a strong option in the eyes of the STARS medics who rushed to the scene. She survived after receiving 28 units of blood, with thirteen broken bones and her right leg amputated above the knee: she triumphantly returned to her beloved sport of snowboarding and other activities in the great outdoors, resumed her career and is now a member of the Canadian Paralympic Snowboard Development Team. She is also an outspoken ambassador for STARS, and for the Canadian Blood Services. At the end of her emotional speech, she boldly encouraged the evening’s guests to open their hearts –and their wallets!
Corinne Edwards was Alea Cox’s flight nurse, and she is now the director of STARS’ newly relocated Edmonton Base near the International Airport. She expressed her thanks and admiration to this dynamic and devoted Fundraising Society.
Tyson Parker was a happy, sports and water-loving Leduc teenager whose life was suddenly threatened in a crash that followed a fun day on Pigeon Lake. STARS showed up and contributed to preserving his life and making sure that his brain injury was not complicated by a lack of timely critical care. With the support of his loving family and close friends, Tyson has resumed a rich life, being active and contributing to the well-being of his fellow Albertans each year, as he and his family created the Tyson Parker Commitment to Life STARS Annual Benefit. Tyson’s childhood friend Ryan Miller was the other accident survivor who offered a few words of heartfelt thanks for the rapid extrication and quick transport to hospital by Leduc Fire & Rescue Services that ensured his timely critical care.
By the fall of 2011, the Commitment to Life Society had officially raised over $410,000 for STARS. The Society’s logo was affixed to all the STARS helicopters, joining several other entities -most of them corporate- that have raised over $250,000. On this Saturday, the 6th Annual fundraiser took place, before its highest attendance yet of 800 guests!
The expansive Silent Auction tables were well-lit, at the back of the large Leduc Recreation Centre Field House, the largest venue in the City of Leduc. In a beautifully appointed room, a short welcome speech by the co-MCs, (both Thorsby High graduates), Chris Sheetz and Darcy Powlick and a wonderful buffet meal served in a timely manner were the first orders of business.
After the four touching and inspiring speeches, the business part of the evening took place, to the fierce and enthusiastic pleasure of the 800-strong crowd of spectators. The Live Auction was conducted by Dale Mudryk, retired Leduc hotelier, who although not an auctioneer by trade, raised another huge amount for STARS. The dynamic and very talented duo “ Room To Dance” got many guests on their feet and kicking up their heels!
An industrial business owner, Mike Sirois, who was the winning bidder of an impressive Sports item, explained why he and others in the Oil & Gas Industry are loyal supporters of STARS: “We feel good knowing that if anything tragic was to occur to one of our workers, in Nisku or out in the field, STARS could be a phone call away, and would increase the victim’s chances of survival!” Pat Jeffery, with Ken King, was one of several STARS medics in attendance, (Michelle Salt’s medical team) shared that most people think of STARS as rushing to highways crashes, when in fact, STARS often flies to industrial or commercial incidents, sometimes in remote locations.
Andrea Robertson, the CEO and president of STARS, shared her passion and gratitude to STARS’ generous supporters; “when you see that shiny red chopper flying overhead, don’t hesitate to offer a quick prayer, as it is probably rushing to save a life- perhaps more than one!”
The “Silent Heroes’ of this huge fundraising success are the individuals and corporate entities who donated unique and quality Live and Silent Auction items and the 800 fiercely loyal bidders and generous STARS supporters. From flights to sunny destinations, to pampering Spa packages, a snowblower, a large meat package and other valuable and interesting items, the generosity of the Auction’s sponsors’ –and of the bidders- was apparent!
Once again this year, a group of five childhood buddies offered a day’s work through a fun video: $5,400 was raised when Land Design, a Leduc-based landscaping company, bought the skills and ‘muscles’ of Tyson Parker, Ryan Miller, Chris Mackenzie, Erik Congdon and Tyler Mattson. A group of six ravishing beauties, the young men’s girlfriends and old friends, stepped forward to add their ‘cleaning efforts’ to the package. Another interesting item raised a feverish $1,000: a group of Leduc firefighters offered a Meal For Four, cooked and served at the Leduc Fire Station.
The Leduc Mayor and the Leduc County’s Mayor joined many other regional officials, lending their support and expressing their emotion and admiration to the three young survivors… The spirit of giving was alive and well at this Benefit, and when Gary McKinney of the Thorsby area was asked about his company buying five tables, he spoke everyone’s mind: “We have been STARS supporters for a long time, it’s such a worthy cause, and we’re going to keep at it for a lot longer!”
The fundraising continues, long after the 6th Annual Tyson Parker Commitment To Life STARS Benefit tallies the funds raised: donations can still be presented to STARS, while all year long, other benefits are held to keep STARS in the sky above Alberta, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. As Darcy Powlik stated, quite eloquently: “Tragic circumstance has transformed these young ones into amazing people”… But first, STARS had to be there to help save their lives!