Ayre raises $59,000 for STARS
September 23, 2021 By Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Stranded on a remote island in eastern Manitoba, four volunteers raised more than $203,000 for STARS Air Ambulance.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) vice-president Jake Ayre survived Rescue on the Island with three other volunteers — Olympic curling gold medallist Jill Officer, Association of Manitoba Municipalities executive director Denys Volkov and Cargill Canada president Jeff Vassart.
Their goal for the day was to fundraise as much as possible for STARS.
“Over the years, we’ve [KAP] had a close working relationship with STARS, as it’s a service that so many rural Manitobans and farmers have utilized,” Ayre said. He has raised around $59,000 to date for the non-profit, and donations continue to roll in.
Ayre and his family run Southern Seeds Ltd., located 20 minutes south of Brandon. He knows first-hand how crucial STARS is for remote communities.
“STARS got started as a charitable organization started by physicians because they were seeing that in rural and remote areas there were patients where the bigger factor in their survivability or the quality of their life was the time it took for them to get from an incident to the health-care facility,” Ayre said.
Many communities in the province can be several hours away from major centres where lifesaving procedures take place. Reducing that transportation time using STARS saves lives by reducing that transportation time.
Each mission the helicopter sets off on is critical, Ayre said, and many rural residents have peace of mind knowing important resources can quickly arrive in times of need.
Ayre said he has been impressed by the stories of places STARS has been able to reach from hilltops and mountains to remote areas a car would not be able to access.
He volunteered to participate in Rescue on the Island on behalf of KAP and help fundraise for the essential service.
It was his first time being stranded for Rescue on the Island, and he enjoyed the experience. His trial marked the first time KAP has had someone participate in the challenge, he said, and he was happy and honoured that Westman farmers, area businesses and businesses from across the country stepped up in support of the fundraiser.
Ayre departed on his journey Thursday, kicking off the day with breakfast before hopping on a bus and heading out to an island near Otter Falls, in eastern Manitoba. Upon arrival at the lake, a pontoon boat delivered Ayre and his companions to their isolated destination.
During the day, the crew competed in a series of challenges, including learning to signal a Hercules Plane, simulating a trauma incident in which they learned how to incubate a medical dummy, dress a wound and administer an IV, and learning how to land the helicopter.
The team of four took on these challenges while seeking as many donations as possible for STARS.
Ayre said the highlight of the day was helping guide the STARS Air Ambulance helicopter to land on the island.
“I was volun-told I had to be the one that had to stand at the front with the pylons as the helicopter was coming in. That was cool,” Ayre said with a laugh. “I had to stand my ground because the thing was coming in hot with a lot of power in those rotors.”
He finished the day off by flying back to Selkirk in the helicopter for a special banquet and reception.
It was amazing to be in the helicopter, he added, because he got to see the tight space where STARS Air Ambulance personnel perform lifesaving procedures.
“It was amazing to be in the Air Ambulance. I learned so many things yesterday,” Ayre said.
Ayre is still accepting donations for STARS. Contact 204-534-5023 or visit stars.ca/event/rescue-on-the-island/ for more details.