When the Shoot for the STARS ladies golf tournament at the White Bear Resort announces registration each year, the event is quickly filled up, leaving last minute golfers on a waiting list for next year. But no one who attends this popular annual event is left out of a great time and the opportunity to support the STARS air ambulance service. This year was no exception – combined with a three-way tie and a whopping $15,000 donation.
When Jacky Lothan and her two friends Eve Sillers and Colleen Brown started the tournament in 2013, they likely could not anticipate the success five years later. When the White Bear Golf Course mentioned they wanted to host a tournament for women, the three friends figured they could do it but they needed a cause. “We came up with STARS because who can’t relate to STARS ambulance in terms of saving abilities. I think every year people are really starting to get to know somebody who has been air lifted by STARS,” said Lothan.
At the awards ceremony, this hit home even closer when Janise Parker stood to make a speech and share her story. She is a friend and fellow golfer now living in Leduc, but she experienced first-hand what STARS can mean to save lives when her son was lifted to a hospital in 2005. “I thought it was so fitting with her being someone formerly from here,” said Lothan. Parker had lived in Carlyle and had experienced the rural areas in Saskatchewan and the challenges of being two hours away from a major hospital.
At the age of sixteen, Parker’s son was the passenger in a head on car collision thirteen years ago. “He suffered severe brain injuries and the whole left side of his body was broken, that’s the best way for me to explain it,” said Parker. Her son Tyson had sustained injuries to his spleen, brain, lungs, wrist, and femur. “Nobody thought he’d make it.”
At the time, it was Parker’s friend, a local fireman, who heard the call come in on his radio. While he was off duty and didn’t know it was her son, he decided to jump in his truck and check it out. “He was the first one there,” said Parker. “He was the one who called STARS. It’s weird - it’s given me goose-bumps all over again, and it’s crazy.”
Tyson was eventually flown to Royal Alex Hospital. “We have no idea how we got so lucky. We credit STARS because in that golden hour, if you don’t get someone to the doctors or nurses who need to work on him, you’re in trouble,” said Parker. Today her son has recovered from 99 per cent of his injuries and suffers from impaired short-term memory at times.
Check out live video on Parker’s speech by going to http://www.carlyleobserver.com/
With five years under her belt, Lothan never has any problem finding golfers. It’s more about how to move new ones from the waiting list. “I send out an email to the ladies from last year and give them a week in advance to register because they are long-term supporters. Then I put up the posters and welcome all newcomers. But if they want in, they’ve got to get right on the ball,” she added speaking as a true seasoned golfer.
At this year’s tournament, the competition was close and the three-way tie was left for the golf pro at White Bear to determine the winning group. With all of the prizes donated by sponsors, Lothan added that it is their sponsors who contribute greatly to the success each year, because they are so generous.
So with the need for STARS to hit the skies in Saskatchewan about three times a day, Parker added fundraising is key. “Their funding is mostly from people like us, and a little bit from the government.” She will be back at the tournament again next year. “It’s fabulous they are doing it. I was thrilled about the fundraising to STARS. I hope they continue.”
Lothan concluded that so much of Saskatchewan is rural area, so this increases the difficulty for urgent medical care, but also the need for the air ambulance service. “STARS treats us like we give them millions of dollars. They are such a class act that way.”