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LifeFlight patients come together to help ‘Celebrate Life’

LifeFlight Australia and Hutchinson Builders are proud to present the highlight of the Sunshine Coast social calendar, the LifeFlight Foundation Benefit Gala at Novotel Twin Waters Resort on March 23. 

Reliving their tales of rescue, four past-patients of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue service came together under the Sunshine Coast hangar to help ‘celebrate life’ and share their stories for the launch of the black-tie event. 

The night’s theme, ‘celebrating life’ is a fitting tribute to patients and families who owe their lives – and the lives of their children - to the rescue helicopter service. 

Kate Bailey has lived every mother’s worst nightmare twice when her two children, Aneeka and Cooper had to be airlifted by the Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter in separate incidents just two years apart. 

Her youngest daughter, Aneeka was born 12 weeks premature and was airlifted by the rescue service after her underdeveloped lungs went into full respiratory-distress just weeks after her release from neonatal incubation. 

For Kate, the ordeal was all too familiar. Only two years earlier her youngest son, Cooper was airlifted by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue after he suffered a brain haemorrhage when he was just five days old.

“I hear the choppers all the time, they’re a familiar and regular sound of our day-to-day routine,” said Kate.

“Every time we hear them it’s a mixed blessing. We’re so thankful but our hearts can’t help but go out to the other family the crew is racing to save.”

Keren Wheeler who lost her leg in a motorcycling accident and Alan Brown who suffered a cardiac arrest also bravely shared their stories, showing how they ‘celebrate life’, despite the mental and physical scars they still carry.

“I’m very thankful for the work LifeFlight does, without their assistance I wouldn’t be here today,” said Keren. 

Keren’s husband, Russell remembers her accident vividly and said without RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, he would not be standing beside his wife today.

Alan’s wife, Norma Brown shares his sentiments. 

She performed CPR on Alan from 20 minutes before an ambulance arrived and rushed him to the local football field where the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue chopper could land. 

“Having LifeFlight there is so important and it’s everyone’s responsibility keep it flying,” said Alan.

“We need that service flying all the time because that extra two or 10 minutes makes a real difference in saving lives.”

It will be the faces and stories of these patients which will inspire Sunshine Coast locals to dig deep during the LifeFlight Foundation Benefit Gala, with all proceeds raised going directly back into the Sunshine Coast arm of the aeromedical service. 

LifeFlight Foundation’s Community Fundraising Manager, Jodi Durkin said tickets were selling fast but there were still a handful left for people to get behind their local rescue helicopter service.

“We rely on the support of generous local businesses and community members to keep our helicopters in the air and saving lives. Thank you to our patients for bravely sharing their stories and showing the real outcome of their support,” said Jodi. 

Hutchinson Builders has partnered with LifeFlight Foundation to present this all-important fundraising event and said their support of the rescue helicopter service was just one way they could give back to their local community.

“Hutchinson Builders is proud to continue our long-standing support of the LifeFlight Foundation and in particular, their services on the Sunshine Coast,” said Michael Michell, Area Manager, Hutchinson Builders, Sunshine Coast.

“Our teams work in remote locations from Kingaroy out west to Bundaberg up north.  It is important and comforting to know that this critical service is available to them and other businesses like ours, should the need ever arise. 

“The life-saving medical care provided by LifeFlight is vital to remote and rural communities around Australia and Hutchies is honoured to be playing a small part in ensuring these services can continue.”  

Local businesses such as Bentley’s Sunshine Coast recognise the vital need for the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue service in their backyard and have come on-board as ‘Celebrate a Life’ sponsors. 

“LifeFlight plays a critical role on the Sunshine Coast, bringing world-class aeromedical care to those in their greatest hour of need,” said Bentley’s Partner, Brendon Murray.

“We’re proud to be giving back to this lifesaving service by covering the average cost of one mission and helping to save a life.” 

It’s the stories of these patients, their courage, resilience and willingness to ‘get back on the bike’ – quite literally for Keren – which will remind guests to ‘celebrate life’ every day and give back when they can.

This event would not be possible without the support of Helimods, Pacific Motor Group, Ken Filbey Financial Services and McLean and Co Jewelers.

Tickets are available for purchase at 

2017 was a record year for LifeFlight for lifesaving missions with its aeromedical crews, community helicopters and Air Ambulance jets performing a record 5,344 missions throughout Queensland and around the world.

LifeFlight is a community-based charity funded and supported by the LifeFlight Foundation

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