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Man. farmer fundraises his way off an island

Man. farmer fundraises his way off an island

Jake Ayre participated in Rescue on the Island for STARS Air Ambulance

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Manitoba farmer took part in a fundraising event similar to what someone might see on the TV show, Survivor.

On Sept. 9, Jake Ayre, a cash crop producer from near Minto, Man. and second vice president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, participated in the Rescue on the Island fundraiser benefitting STARS Air Ambulance.

After a kickoff breakfast, Ayre and his three island mates boarded a bus where the games began.

“On the bus we did a trivia challenge about STARS and the organization,” he told “The winner, which was not me, got to pick first. That’s all we were told, there was no other context.”

After the bus ride, Ayre and the other participants boarded a pontoon boat to an island near Pinawa, Man. All four fundraisers wore orange flight suits and only had their cell phones to connect with people off the island.

Once on the island, Ayre and the others completed multiple challenges while making calls to secure donations for STARS.

When an individual has raised $50,000, then and only then is he or she rescued from the island.

The first task the participants had to do on the island was build a signal.

Above the island, a Hercules bomber flew overhead. The foursome had to each build a signal using provided materials and the pilots would decide which signal was the most effective.

The winner of the trivia challenge on the bus got to pick their materials first.

“I got the last pick, and the irony of it all is that the farmer got blue shop towels,” he said. “Using that and things I could find on the island, I build what looked like a teepee and draped the shop towels over it. My thought process is if its three-dimensional and moving it would make for a good signal.”

After the signal building challenge, Ayre and the others received instructions to head towards a water’s edge.

“Again, no context,” Ayre said.

Two STARS rescue technicians parachuted out of the back of the Hercules plane and delivered further instructions.

“We had a fundraising challenge where we had about half an hour to raise as much money as we could,” Ayre said. “I think I got about 23 donations in that time.”

The next task of the day was medical in nature.

A simulated traumatic incident was set up on the island, where the injured person had lost a hand.

The participants had to tend to the injury by following instructions from STARS personnel.

“I was paired up with a paramedic and he had to tell me what to do in the situation, but he couldn’t touch anything,” Ayre said. “I learned on a dummy how to apply a tourniquet, how to intubate someone that wasn’t breathing, and we simulated a blood infusion into bone marrow.”

After that challenge, the foursome learned about spotting potential landing areas.

Ayre was right in the middle of that opportunity.

“I had to hold those wands like you’d see at an airport,” he said. “There was a pilot on the ground with us who told me I had to stand my ground and that I couldn’t move because I am the mark for the helicopter. It was a bit intimidating when you’re seeing and feeling this helicopter land right in front of you.”

In total, Ayre raised almost $60,000 for STARS. Together, the foursome raised $203,000.

In addition to the raised funds, the experience reaffirmed how important teamwork is, Ayre said.

“There are so many cogs at STARS that work together to get the job done,” he said. “The biggest thing I learned is that if you don’t have a functioning team that isn’t on the same page, it’s going to be hard to accomplish the task at hand.

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