Have you ever been so passionate about an experience or organization that it draws you to share your story or support the cause? Many of us have been touched by a health condition or event that captures our hearts.
Lisa Prebushewski of Gruenthal is one of those individuals that is drawn so deeply, both emotionally and physically, to supporting Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) that it resulted in a barbecue fundraiser May 27 at the family acreage in Gruenthal. Although the cool weather conditions accompanied by a strong wind and threatening rain clouds dampened the atmosphere, the hearts and generosity of those in attendance were overfilled with warmth.
Besides some testimonials and speeches, the audience experienced the musical talent of a dynamic young band from Borden area called 26 Pledge. The members consisted of Michael Crabb on rhythm guitar, Avery Fairbrother with vocals and lead guitar, Dylan Sargeant on drums and George Hembery with backup vocals and bass. They played a selection of popular rock as well as some of their own songs that will be featured on their first CD release. They not only donated their time but also donated a set of autographed drumsticks and autographed ukulele for auction.
A donation area was set up in a small building along with a STARS display complete with a video, banners, posters and handouts. Individuals responsible for the donation table were Annette Saccucci, Maria deSa, Jenny Crawford and Larissa Weitzel.
There was a large group of family and volunteers in the cookhouse offering barbecued hamburgers or hotdogs, salad and cold beverages. Hot beverages, ice cream novelties and doughnuts were available in the summer kitchen. It was an afternoon of food, music, fellowship, laughter and knowledge. Many businesses within the valley area gave generously to support the efforts of this family’s fundraiser.
It was an emotional moment when Lisa took the stage to share her first-hand STARS experience. She waited a moment, took a deep breath and, without another moment’s hesitation, she began to take the audience back in time to 2004. She recalls the scene of eight years ago so vividly, as if it were yesterday. May 19, 2004, Lisa became a victim of circumstance that brought her closer to her faith and God but also left her fighting for her life.
While residing in Leduc, Alta., she was a victim of multiple stab wounds. Her constant prayers throughout the attack, and after the perpetrator fled, provided her with enough strength to call 911. “I remember calling out to God,” commented Lisa pausing to regain her composure then continuing to explain how God’s intervention has enabled her to be alive today to share her story.
Upon receipt of the 911 call, an ambulance was dispatched. After arriving and assessing her vitals and injuries from 16 stab wounds, the medical personnel in the ambulance made the call to STARS. The helicopter was waiting at the Leduc hospital and quickly transported her to Edmonton University Hospital where she was treated for her injuries and stabilized. The next day, she was informed that her attacker, her husband from whom she was separated at the time, had taken his own life.
Lisa was surrounded by love and support. Her ability to forgive contributed to her emotional, mental and physical healing process. She was released from the hospital three weeks and three days later.
“I had the most amazing support system,” said the emotional Lisa explaining that the audience must understand one thing. “I have no ounce of hatred, resentment or anger towards him whatsoever. What he had to go through the last hours of his life must have been awful. He had no support, no one to turn to. I believe in my heart that my emotional and mental healing was as quick as it was because I forgave him. I do not pass judgment and I ask that no one pass judgment on him, the only one who can judge is God. My scars are my testimony that God intervened and still performs miracles today.”
God saved Lisa’s life through the service of STARS. She concluded by sharing her personal motto: “The Son and STARS saved my life”.
From that day forward, Lisa became a great supporter of the STARS program in Alberta. Now that the STARS program has been launched in Saskatchewan, Lisa and her family are dedicated to raising awareness of this vital medical service. She is living proof that the STARS program saves lives. The quick response, the qualified professional medical staff, medical equipment and efficient pilots are what make the flying intensive care units vital to saving lives.
It was through her life experience that Lisa, her husband Nick and families planned, organized and held a STARS fundraising barbecue on their acreage in Gruenthal. Donations at the barbecue exceeded $9,116 with donations on behalf of the Prebushewski barbecue accepted until June 11.
Chelsey Karakochuk shared her STARS experience with the audience. In 1999 at the age of eight, Chelsey and her family were on their way back to Saskatchewan from holiday in Alberta when they were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Because Chelsey had snuck out of her seat belt to sleep on the back seat, she was thrown from the vehicle out the back window on impact. Her body flew 10 metres before landing limp on a barbwire fence.
“The ambulance personnel notified STARS who arrived and transported me to Edmonton University Hospital,” commented Chelsey, further explaining her life threatening injuries and how she underwent six surgeries to repair damage to her internal organs. “STARS paved the way to my miracle of a recovery. I remember waking up from my first surgery with a STARS bear tucked in my arm.”
Chelsey does not have a lot of recollection of what happened after the accident but with the information provided by family and friends, she is aware of how STARS saved her life. Chelsey explained to the crowd that her surface scars are a reminder of the adversity and challenges that have shaped her into who she is today.
“How lucky we are to have STARS come to our province,” exclaimed Chelsey as Lisa nodded in the background. “We know how important STARS is and we encourage you to support them.”
On behalf of the Government of Saskatchewan, Nancy Heppner, MLA for the Martensville constituency, acknowledged how proud the government is to bring the STARS program to the province.
“Thank you to the many professionals and volunteers in the province that continue to keep the people of our province safe,” Heppner concluded.
It’s like the old saying “you never know how important it is until you or your loved one requires the services.” Nick Prebushewski emotionally concluded by saying that he thanks his lucky STARS for giving him Lisa.
STARS is very important in transporting critically ill and injured patients from rural and remote areas of the province to medical hospitals.
“STARS saves seconds, saves minutes and can help save lives,” commented Rod Gantefoer, executive vice president, STARS foundation. “STARS is a charitable, non-profit organization, and the STARS foundation is the fundraising division. The society division looks after operations in Saskatchewan.”
The Regina STARS base is now operating within the province. The Saskatchewan government has committed $10 million annually towards the operation of the bases, leaving the foundation to raise another $11 to $ 12 million annually.
With each two-engine BK117 STARS helicopter unit, there is a requirement of providing a minimum of two medical crew – a critical care nurse and advanced life support paramedic – and two pilots to respond to each call. Phase II will introduce an AW 139 helicopter with a response radius of 375 kilometres enabling STARS to service more of the northern remote areas of Saskatchewan.
STARS will focus on providing care and transport for patients in rural areas of Saskatchewan who are critically ill or injured. This will include inter-hospital transfers from a rural hospital to a larger hospital, as well as scene responses such as on highways, in remote areas and industry work sites.
There are six bases within western Canada: three in Alberta, two in Saskatchewan and one in Manitoba.
Beside various fundraisers the foundation is holding a STARS lottery with all proceeds remaining in Saskatchewan to keep STARS in the skies. The Red Ring for Life campaign was established as a token of appreciation and awareness for STARS through generous donations of $60 or more.
The more you talk with people, the more one realizes the impact STARS has played in someone’s life. Lately, it has been the life saving experiences that have occurred outside of the province such as in Alberta. Chelsey and Lisa’s stories are heartwarming success stories of how the bright red orbs in the sky have provided a vision and sound of hope for the sick and injured in rural or remote areas where travel by land would take hours.
For more information or to make a donation visit www.stars.ca.