Lethbridge Lodge helps Friends in Need this Christmas

Posted on : Friday, February 22, 2013

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When Rob Parsons was in a dirt bike accident last year, his life depended on a 35 minute flight from Lethbridge to Calgary. His dad, Tim, recalls the pain he felt watching his son as he was lifted away in the STARS Air Ambulance knowing that he still had to drive two and half hours before he'd be able to see his son at the hospital. 

Thanks to the care of the flight nurses and the speed and the efficiency of the helicopter, Rob is alive today to tell his story. He suffered a broken back, legs and punctured lung initially before getting an infection on his back that sent him back to the hospital. He describes the experience as the scariest moment of his life, but after a five month journey he was able to start raising awareness for the people who saved his life. 

Since December 1985 the not-for-profit organization has flown over 23,000 missions in Alberta and currently services 94 per cent of the province, although that number is expected to increase in 2013. Currently Lethbridge is second only to Red Deer for flights or missions, dispatching 51 in 2012. 

STARS relies on government, corporate and community support to continue their work. Each flight costs $5,400, but in the words of the STARS Foundation Southern Territorial Manager Murray Campbell, "you can't put a price on someone's life." 

Enter the Lethbridge Lodge and their Friends in Need initiative, which has supported local charities since 2000 with this being the second year they've chosen to support STARS. Candace Ebery from the Lethbridge Lodge explains that each year they chose a charity that is local and they saw the need for supporting STARS as they are an integral part to saving lives within Lethbridge. The hotel is supporting the Fund a Flight program to help pay for a STARS mission. 

From December 20, 2012 to January 2, 2013 the hotel will donate $10 from each room to STARS. Room rates start at $84 and can be booked online at www.lethbridgelodge.com or by calling 403-328-1123. Last year the Lethbridge Lodge raised $7,000, which was enough for one and a half flights; this year they hope to raise enough for a second flight. Candace has seen people become more involved with the cause through the years. Those who want to donate, but don't need a room can also do so through a donation jar in the hotel lobby. 

Murray describes the humanistic connection that is made through each mission and says the Friends in Need campaign is just another way of showing how they save lives every day. Rob's father Tim, says they were supporters of STARS before Rob's accident and now support it even more. His company has since funded a flight and he continues to maintain a close family relationship with STARS. 

As for Rob, his accident hasn't stopped his passion for cars and high-speed action. Although confined to a wheelchair, Rob has been building a hand-controlled race car to be used specifically for drifting. Other hand-controlled cars have been made throughout the world, but none have been successful competitively. Rob hopes to work with STARS to perfect his car as well as set up driving clinics locally and internationally to give people who have lost the use of their legs the ability to drive again. To see some of his work visit his Facebook page athttp://www.facebook.com/RtpRacing

(photos courtesy of Candace Ebery and Rob Parsons)