The Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter has been operating since 1991. Photo / Bevan Conley.
A charity ball has brought the Manawatū and Whanganui communities together to celebrate and raise funds for a local lifesaver.
The John Turkington Forestry Red & Blue Charity Ball supported the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter, which has been operating in the Manawatū and Whanganui regions since 1991.
More than $57,000 was raised at this year’s event, with the funds supporting the helicopter and its team’s efforts in saving lives.
One of those lives was Dan Jack, who gave a speech at the ball about his experience.
Jack had been riding at the Arapuke Forest Mountain Bike Park, south of Palmerston North, when he was bucked off his bike while going over the first of two consecutive jumps.
“I was going fast, I was going real quick and then doing the swimming in the air kind of thing,” he said.
“At that time I think it was in summer so the dirt was rock hard.”
Having ridden motocross bikes for most of his life he was used to crashing and tried to tuck and roll but instead of landing on flat ground, he crashed into the incline of the second jump.
“I just splatted hard into that,” Jack said.
“I just remember trying to get up and then my legs weren’t working.”
Jack broke almost all of the ribs on his left side, shattered his hip, injured his shoulder, knee, and spine and suffered a severe concussion.
Other riders came down the course and dialled 111 when they found him.
He said an ambulance crew, which had been in the area, reached him first and carried him up a road to a clearing at the top of the park, where the helicopter took him to Palmerston North Hospital.
“It’s a very big relief knowing that chopper is there because the guys are bloody good, they make you feel very safe and you feel like this is the best scenario of what’s going on.”
The helicopter crew stopped by multiple times to check on him while he recovered, Jack said.
“It’s not like they just pick you up, drop you off and head back to smoko, they actually care quite a bit which I thought was quite cool.
He said he was nervous to speak at the ball but was happy to give back to an organisation which had helped him and many others.
“I’m sort of old school, you always want to do your best to support the cause that it is because it literally is a lifesaving cause and the fact that it’s not fully funded is crazy.”
He said he was stoked the ball raised such a large sum of money as it was going to a great cause.
“There are some good people out there, charitable people, which is really good,” he said.
Jack is now working towards opening a gym and indoor adventure park in his home town of Foxton later this year.
Phillips Search and Rescue Trust marketing manager Sharni Weir expressed her gratitude to the people who attended.
The trust is responsible for fundraising and promotion of the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter, along with four others across the North Island.
“We’re extremely grateful for the support and generosity we’ve received from the community and the hard work of the committee that put on this amazing fundraiser,” Weir said.
“It was such a wonderful night, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it was great to see so many people come together to help those in need.”
People can make donations to the trust via the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter’s website.