(Image: flight nurse Kayla Jones and flight paramedic Mike Choate at a LifeFlight event in Pemaquid in July 2023.)
In celebration of LifeFlight of Maine’s 25th Anniversary (1998-2023), The LifeFlight Foundation toured the state this summer to meet with friends and supporters.
At the end of May, LifeFlight supporter Maddy Corson and LifeFlight Foundation board member Linda Varrell hosted a gathering in Portland, during which community members heard from a LifeFlight patient about his experience and the impact LifeFlight has on all communities in Maine, including the more urban ones with large medical centers nearby.
In June, the Foundation organized a gathering for friends and supporters in Boothbay, hosted by Nancy and George McEvoy, and announced that evening that LifeFlight is launching a critical care ground transport program in 2024. This new ground program will allow LifeFlight to answer more calls from help from all across Maine when its medical expertise is required but air is not the preferred mode of transport or weather prohibits the aircraft from flying.
In July, LifeFlight Foundation board member David Humm and his wife, Mary Humphrey, hosted friends and supporters at their beautiful home in Pemaquid. LifeFlight crew members were there to talk with guests about their work, LifeFlight patient and Foundation board member KC Ford shared about her experience, and members of the leadership team discussed how LifeFlight will meet the growing demand statewide for its services. One of LifeFlight’s helicopters made a planned visit, demonstrating how vital LifeFlight is to communities along Midcoast peninsulas and offering guests the opportunity to see inside the aircraft.
In August, the Foundation team was in Blue Hill, where Laurel and Zach Martin hosted a gathering at their home for members of the community to learn more about LifeFlight and the service it provides to small, coastal communities. While guests were gathered and with the Atlantic Nationals regatta happening in the background, a LifeFlight aircraft made an unplanned flyover on its way to Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital.
LifeFlight also participated in a handful of other community events around the state this summer. In July, the Appalachian Mountain Club invited LifeFlight to its Medawisla Lodge for the Slapjack Bike Festival. A LifeFlight crew landed in a helicopter and led a Ground Safety Course, which is designed to provide training to first responders, outdoor enthusiasts, and members of the community on what services LifeFlight offers, how to call for a LifeFlight transport, and how to secure a landing zone. The Camden Classics Cup also took place at the end of July, which has generously supported LifeFlight over the years and continues to do so. Proceeds from the event have raised a total of $85,000 for LifeFlight.
In August, LifeFlight participated in National Night Out events in Brunswick and Windham, emphasizing the important partnerships between LifeFlight and first responders across Maine. LifeFlight is one link in the chain of survival. Safety and access to medical care depend on lots of people and organizations working together with LifeFlight — police, fire and rescue, the Maine Warden Service, medical providers, hospitals, and more.
Finally, the Cross for LifeFlight, the Foundation’s largest fundraising event of the year, dominated the month of August. More than 100 people participated all over the state, ranging in age from one to 79. Some ran, some hiked, some biked, some walked, some swam, and still others “Crossed” in more creative ways. Together, more than $200,000 has been raised, and fundraising continues through the end of September.
This year’s Cross for LifeFlight included the first-ever Grateful Patient Team, which had 18 members. They were patients themselves, along with parents, siblings, in-laws, and children of patients. To date, the team has raised more than $51,000.
The Cross also included three in-person events this year: a bike ride in Auburn, led by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine; a guided hike in Belgrade, led by the 7 Lakes Alliance; and a sea kayak paddle in Casco Bay, led by Portland Paddle. The event in Belgrade also included a Ground Safety Course for local EMS and first responders, as well as a helicopter landing. Those who were participating in the hike, as well as other members of the community, were able to ask questions to LifeFlight crew members and see inside the aircraft — rotor wing pilot Kirk Donovan even let a few excited kids pose for a photo in the cockpit!