One of the flight crew members for STARS Air Ambulance attended the Ponoka Kinsmen fundraiser supper March 2 at the Ponoka Legion to help out and be recognized. Here STARS crew member Barb Atkinson holds up one of the auction items. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka Kinsmen held their annual fundraising auction

The event brought all of Ponoka’s movers and shakers to the Ponoka Legion

The Kinsmen Club of Ponoka continue to show they have a strong community focus.

The club held its annual fundraiser supper at the Ponoka Legion March 2 with a focus on the community as well as STARS Air Ambulance. Representatives from STARS took part in the evening gala and were able to receive a $5,000 donation from the Kinsmen.

For president Mike York, the evening is a big celebration of the many supporters of the Kinsmen’s programs. He added that provincially, Alberta’s Kinsmen support STARS.

“This is our eighth annual auction and we host this every year as kind of a thank you to the big supporters in town,” explained York.

Seeing such strong support for the Kinsmen is something York feels has to do with Ponoka’s passion for the community. “You have a bunch of like-minded individuals who want to make a change in the community and that just drives everything that they do.”

He said their support allows the Kinsmen to continue focussing on its mandate of supporting the community’s greatest need. The evening included silent and live auctions and while it’s all about the community, STARS was a special feature at the event.

STARS representative Sheyanne Levall-Crouse was proud to be able to receive the donation from the Kinsmen. “The Kin Club of Canada to-date has raised nearly $1 million for STARS, which is incredible,” she said, adding that without such support and involvement STARS would not be able to fly.

All that money goes to ensure patients are cared for, especially in the rural areas. Also part of the evening was Alea Cox and her husband. She is one of STARS’s VIPs.

“Alea was flown in June 2009 and she can probably attest first-hand the difference it made for her,” said Levall-Crouse.

Alea and her husband were driving home between Leduc and Calmar on a gravel road about two miles from their home when they were t-boned by another vehicle. She has no recollection of the accident as she was knocked out and had to go through months of physical care.

“The vehicle rolled many times into the ditch,” said Alea, adding that STARS landed in a farmer’s field to collect her.

It took crews eight minutes to fly to the University of Alberta Hospital. It saved her life.

“It meant everything. I had a brain injury. I had internal bleeding,” said Alea.

Related: STARS meets with Ponoka County on campaign for new choppers

Levall-Crouse said there are three key pieces to STARS, the VIPs like Alea, the crews who do the work and then the allies, who support the organization. “In Alberta specifically, 20 per cent of our funding comes from Alberta Health Services,” said Levall-Crouse.

The other 80 per cent comes from fundraising and events like the Kinsmen donation. Currently the organization is fundraising for the purchase of new helicopters.

York added that the Kinsmen membership is growing and he’s excited for what the future will bring.

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One of the big donations the Ponoka Kinsmen made at their fundraiser supper March 2 was this cheque for $5,000 to STARS Air Ambulance. Among those in the picture with the Kinsmen are Cheyenne Levall-Crouse (middle) and STARS VIP Alea Cox (left) who was transported by STARS from a collision in 2009. Crew member Barb Atkinson in blue coveralls was also part of the entourage. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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