McLaughlin GM fundraiser supports STARS


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Ryan McLaughlin (centre) presents a cheque for $3,000 to the representatives of STARS Air Ambulance on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Auto dealership donates to emergency air service

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

A Neepawa business recently used its own anniversary celebration as a means to support a very important emergency service. On Friday, Sept. 21, McLaughlin GM in Neepawa held their 10th anniversary barbecue. As part of those festivities, they accepted donations for STARS Air Ambulance.

STARS (Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) is a non-profit organization that provides rapid and specialized emergency care and transportation for critically ill and injured patients across the prairies.

In total, $1,400 was raised from the barbecue, with McLaughlin GM then contributing an additional $1,600, making the final amount from the day $3,000. On Thursday, Sept. 27, dealer principal Ryan McLaughlin presented that cheque to a representative of STARS at their base in Winnipeg.  In an interview with the Banner & Press, McLaughlin noted that everyone involved with the anniversary barbecue was very happy to also support STARS in this manner.

“When we did our anniversary celebration, we looked at what we wanted to do to commemorate it. We wanted to invite people out and thank them for their support over the years and allowing us to be able to do business and work and live in Neepawa and area. So we said ‘Let’s have a barbecue and do something special,” said McLaughlin. “But then we thought what else can we do to make this an event that will benefit back to the community? We do a lot of things locally already through donations and service clubs, but this is just a thing that, a service that I think is so important to, not only Neepawa but the surrounding area. So, when that came about we gave the opportunity to HyLife Foods, who graciously stepped in, along with Neepawa-Gladstone Co-op and 94.7 Star-FM. So, we kind of made it a little more of a way to give back.”

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A massive tent was set up on the day of the barbecue to help keep everyone out of the elements, during the 10th anniversary celebration.

Grassroots support

Lori Derksen, STARS development officer of events thanked Ryan and the entire staff of McLaughlin GM for their support. She said this type of on the ground support is so important to ensure the service remains a viable option.

“It’s very exciting to see a business such as McLaughlin’s so engaged within their community and their entire region, really,” noted Derksen. “These types of grassroots support ensure that we’re not only able to continue our service, but also improve and expand it.”

Full medical clinic in the air

“It’s a service that I hope I never have to use. I hope no one has to use it, but at the same time, if [it is needed], it’s comforting to have that service available. In an emergency situation, every second counts and if STARS was not available, your chances aren’t good,” stressed McLaughlin. “I received a tour of their mobile service, while in Winnipeg and it was so impressive. Seeing the entire operation from the hangar and to meet the pilots, it’s amazing. It is a full medical clinic in the air.”

McLaughlin concluded by saying that the dealership would like to continue to support the STARS Program in the future, with preliminary plans already in the works. The exact details cannot be released at this time, but McLaughlin did suggest it would be more of a regional effort moving ahead.

“Our businesses’ home-base is in Neepawa, which we are thankful for. But, we also service a good hour to two hours around Neepawa, so we want to encompass a couple of events in other communities. Places such as Carberry and Brookdale and Minnedosa, up to McCreary. You have Gladstone, [those communities] play a big part in our business, but also that’s an area that STARS reaches out as well. So, we’re going to plan a couple of big events.”