October 12, 2023 By Heather Cameron, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Taber Times
The third annual Ride for HALO Air Ambulance took place on September 9 at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park.
“This event was held and put on by the Southern Alberta Trail Riders Association (SATRA) in partnership with the Writing-on-Stone Rodeo Association to support HALO Air Ambulance,” said Amanda Malone with SATRA.
Malone says that riders embarked on a guided six hour ride through the Writing-on-Stone historical site, with a few stops being made along the way including at the old R.C.M.P. Barracks, Horse Thief Cave, and Ashes Crossing for explanations of their histories.
“The event received great support from local and surrounding communities with over 40 riders in attendance,” Malone said. “Paul Carolan from HALO Air Ambulance came and spent the day with us. He had the opportunity to meet and chat with everyone, about the impact this ride would have on getting the word out in southern Alberta about HALO and its mission. He was truly surprised and thrilled with the impact our little group of 50 fundraisers made for HALO. Thankfully there were no medical adventures, but there was certainly enough help around, just in case. We had Fire Chief Mark Myra from the County of Forty Mile and four members from the Aden Volunteer Fire Department with us for the day. We also had Randi Harty, EMT, in one of the groups as a rider, which was an excellent safety asset. So happy that these emergency personnel got to just have fun with us, and not have to use their skills.”
The banquet meal, Malone says, was sponsored by Secure Energy and prepared by The Butcher Shop, a small family catering business run by Paul and Marilyn Vornbrock, out of Masinasin, Alberta. The meal, Malone says, was a terrific roast beef with garlic mashed potatoes, baby carrots, coleslaw, Caesar salad, fabulous gravy, horseradish, and dessert.
After dinner, Lindsay O’Hara treated the group to a talk on the history of the area, his family’s connection to the land that goes back five generations, and his effort to preserve the access to the rodeo grounds and trails he has spent his life on.
“We are behind you 100 per cent Lindsay and Writing-on-Stone Rodeo Club!” said Malone.
Prizes, Malone says, were also awarded for riders who raised the most pledges, youngest and oldest riders as well as those who traveled the greatest distance. Malone says that the oldest rider was Jim Walsh, the youngest rider was James O’Hara, youth riders were Lexa Warkentin, Dylan Garber, Jaelynne Langermann, Sienna O’Hara, and Payton Garber, and the riders who travelled from the farthest distance were Sandy and Callie Corriveau from Eckville, Alberta. Malone says that Perlich Auction even hosted an online auction the week leading up to the event where donated auction items were posted and bid on.
“The silent auction garnered $6,040,” Malone said. “Perlich was thrilled with the last-minute bidding wars, and would love to have us back again next year. The 50/50 draw brought in $865, with the draw for $432.50 won by Bob Huff, which he promptly donated back to HALO. The beef draw was won by Shona MacArthur, who is newly married, and will benefit from some food expense relief for a while. The pledges were truly beyond expectations. We raised a whopping $21,560. HALO gave the top 10 money raisers a HALO hat or toque, to thank them for their efforts. In addition to that we have approximately $4,000 raised that SATRA will add to the pot. That brings the grand total to $32,285.”
Malone says that the ride received a great amount of support from local businesses, Taber Rodeo Queen Jessie Ferguson, and many other generous sponsors.
HALO Air Ambulance, Malone says, is southern Alberta’s only dedicated Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) and Public Safety Program.
“Since inception in 2007, HALO Air Ambulance has flown thousands of missions, impacting countless lives,” Malone said. “HALO Air Ambulance plays an important role in the southern Alberta community as they are the only air ambulance dedicated to saving lives in southern Alberta.”
Malone says that HALO receives less than 50 percent of their entire operating budget from the Government of Alberta, so they rely on the kindness and generosity of community-minded individuals, responsible small businesses and corporate partners, and leading regional municipalities.
Before this year, Malone says, HALO Air Ambulance held poker rides at the Grassy Lake Forks and to help expand the event, they changed the structure and location of the ride.
“Writing-on-Stone Riding Association was thrilled to partner with SATRA to host the 2023 trail ride fundraiser for HALO,” Malone said. “This event turned out better than we ever could have imagined. We are so thankful to partner up with Writing-on-Stone Rodeo Club. They have such a great venue and it made things so comfortable for us all,” Malone said. “Right on the Milk River, there was lots of space for the horses, without being on top of each other. The beer garden area provided us with an area for dinner and presentations, and speeches. They also donated the use of the generator, for the caterer and for lighting as it started to get dark. They were also extremely helpful and easy to work with.”