The campaign to renew STARS’ helicopter fleet has been given a significant lift, thanks to a $500,000 gift from MNP’s Partners across Saskatchewan. The donation was made public today at the STARS air ambulance base by Trevor Friesen, CPA, CA and Partner with MNP in Saskatoon.
“On behalf of MNP’s Saskatchewan Partners, I am proud to announce the combined personal donations of $500,000 to the Pegasus Project, supporting STARS’ campaign to update its fleet of helicopters,” said Friesen. “We work and live in communities that benefit from access to STARS. It is this connection to STARS’ impact that motivated MNP Partners in Saskatchewan to personally contribute to this life-saving initiative.”
Melissa Swayze, CPA, CA, is a Partner in MNP’s Weyburn, SK office who says that supporting STARS is a natural fit, as the non-profit service touches so many people and families across the province. “Whether someone needs help in a bigger centre or a small community, where many of us grew up or now live, every time I see that red helicopter in the air I think of the many lives that have been impacted by STARS.”
MNP’s gift will support the Pegasus Project – a unique fundraising initiative created by businessman Vaughn Wyant and supported by community leaders to sell a custom-built, one-of-a-kind 1968 Ford Shelby Mustang 427 coupe at the world-famous Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona in January 2022. All proceeds will go to STARS’ new fleet.
“This would not have come together without the Pegasus Project and its leaders,” said Friesen. “MNP has an excellent relationship with the volunteer committee behind the Pegasus Project, and we were excited about the idea of turning an incredible vehicle build into something amazing for our Saskatchewan communities.”
Also speaking at today’s announcement was Wade Cassidy, a STARS Very Important Patient, who was cared for and transported by the air ambulance service after he suffered a heart attack while at his lakeside cabin. “I owe my life to STARS,” said Cassidy. “Without them, it would have been the end of my story.”
Cassidy applauded the MNP Partners for their generous contribution. “There are no words to describe how grateful my family and I are to donors like MNP who enable STARS to continue to be there for patients like me.”
Fleet renewal important for STARS’ sustainability
In June 2018, STARS unveiled a multi-year plan to replace its fleet of BK117 and AW139 aircraft with nine new medically equipped Airbus H145 helicopters, at a cost of CAD $13 million each.
“The bulk of our aging fleet is no longer being built and is becoming costlier to maintain,” said Andrea Robertson, STARS president and CEO. “Additionally, independent assessments of our fleet’s sustainability told us we needed to move from two aircraft types to one.”
An extensive review resulted in the selection of the H145 aircraft as the best option for STARS’ new fleet. It offers cutting-edge technology, advanced safety features, and an updated version of the medical interior found in STARS’ existing helicopters.
To commemorate today’s gift announcement, Robertson and Friesen unveiled the MNP logo on the rear door of STARS’ first H145 helicopter in Saskatchewan, which has been flying missions from the Saskatoon base since October 2019. The remainder of the new fleet is expected to be delivered in 2021.
“We’re so thankful that our allies are helping us renew our fleet, particularly through these challenging times, when community support is so critical to our operations,” said Robertson.
“Our supporters ride along with us on every mission, and thanks to the leadership and financial support of these generous MNP Partners, we are closer to the goal of having our mission continue in a new fleet that will serve patients and communities across Western Canada for decades to come.”
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