LifeFlight Celebrates Life with Gala Series

The evening will feature five special guests, past patients of LifeFlight, who will share their unique experiences and stories. 

This year’s theme, “Celebrating Life”, is a fitting concept for the 10th Annual LifeFlight gala event series, launched at the aeromedical service’s Toowoomba base today. 

The base played host to a rare reunion of three of those local past LifeFlight patients – Sandy Morris, Connor Sharpe and Jenny Ballon – all with their extraordinary survival story to tell – who will form their own mini Patient Rescue Club when they are guest speakers at the Gala event next month. 
They will be joined on the night by Cardell Turner, a motor bike crash survivor. 

LifeFlight Community Engagement Manager Vicki James said it was a great opportunity for the patients to get together for the first time, to share stories and meet some of the local crew.

“Our local RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew and all of the team at the base love meeting those that they’ve helped and it’s not often that we get several past patients here together to compare their survival experiences,” Vicki said.

“To have three patients visit us today and to have them also be willing to share their incredible stories with guests at the first fundraising event in our Gala Series next month is very special.

“The support we receive from the community is unbelievable and we are so thankful for the ongoing support of our patients and the community.

“Tickets are still available for the Toowoomba Gala so I would really encourage the community to jump on board as they are selling fast.”

All of the patients have their own unique story behind their lifesaving rescue by LifeFlight. Sandy Morris, a rural firefighter from Hatton Vale was airlifted in February this year with recurring seizures which Gatton hospital staff had been unable to stop or control. 

“Living so far away from major hospitals, I am not sure what would have happened if the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter hadn’t have been there to quickly get me to a city hospital with necessary equipment to save my life.” 

Jenny Ballon needed LifeFlight’s help when she was charged and trampled by one of her own cattle last year. 

“I feel so lucky to have had LifeFlight get me to hospital fast, I don’t know how travelling to Brisbane by road would have been with a punctured lung and broken ribs,” said Jenny.

After an unexpected heart attack at the age of just 15 during football training, Connor Sharpe, now 17, has had to give up his beloved rugby league due to his now diagnosed Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. 

“They kept me alive, I wouldn’t be here without them,” said Connor. 

Connor may not remember the day his heart stopped but his mother Wendy certainly does.

“I thought we’d lost him. He was such a fit kid, and never did I think a heart attack would be something that would happen to a teenager.”

It was all smiles and laughs at the hangar today with all the past patients sharing their survival stories and their sincere gratitude towards LifeFlight who helped to give them a second chance. Budding musician Connor played a saxophone solo for local supporters, sponsors and media. 

 “Working in emergency services myself, I know how important the work LifeFlight does for the community,” said Sandy. 

“It’s reassuring to know they are there to help if we ever need their help again.” 

2016-17 was a record year for LifeFlight with 2050 missions flown from all of its Queensland community helicopter rescue bases. The Toowoomba base performed a record 566 missions with the majority of airlifts being urgent hospital transfers, requiring moving patients to emergency specialist medical care quickly.

Over 100 missions required LifeFlight to land at the scene of an incident or accident. Of those, 35 were road and off road car and motorbike accidents and on six occasions patients needed to be winched from a location due to the fact the helicopter was unable to land. 

This year the Toowoomba based RACQ Rescue helicopter also performed seven search and rescue missions. 

Hutchinson Builders is a proud supporter of the Toowoomba Gala Event, and Nick Barker from Hutchinson attended this morning’s media launch.

Nick said Hutchinson has been a long time supporter of LifeFlight in Toowoomba and they continue to support the aeromedical charity because it’s such an important part of the South West community.

“Our staff work all over the South West Region, and so it’s reassuring for them and as well as the broader community to know that LifeFlight will be there in the hour of need,” Nick said.

As well as Hutchinson Builders, other proud supporters of the Toowoomba Gala Event are G&K Lawson Construction, NAB, and Ryley Jewellers.

More than 500 guests are expected to attend the highly-anticipated fundraising gala. Tickets are $220 each or $2,000 for a table of ten, to help raise vital funds for LifeFlight Foundation which supports the LifeFlight rescue service. 

To purchase tickets visit the LifeFlight Gala event series webpage.