Category Archives: Brenda

A STARS Story

 

Deb and her horse Sassy at Mesa Butte

Deb and her horse Sassy at Mesa Butte

I’m pretty sure that each of us taking part in the Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS has either taken a ride in the STARS helicopter or know someone who has. We all feel the ripple effects when someone is transported via the Air Rescue System, whether through being directly involved in the accident or seeing the red helicopter fly through the sky.

One of our riders, Deb Dombowsky, experienced the ride first-hand last summer when riding in the mountains west of Calgary.  She shares her story…

“It was a beautiful morning in the mountains in my favourite camping spot, Little Elbow Equestrian campsite. The sun was just breaking over the mountains with the promise of a warm day. I saddled up my young horse, Secret, for what I thought was going to be a quiet, short ride down to the river.

We set out just behind the campsite and I was pondering where I would take my brother when he got up there later in the morning. It was maybe a half hour into the ride when we came around a bend in the trail and were met with a black bear.

ABC Race for STARS

ABC Race for STARS

My horse stopped hard and the bear took off into the bush with my dog in pursuit. It happened so fast, when my horse jammed on the brakes I clinched my legs and unfortunately stuck her pretty hard with my spurs.  And then we were off to the races so to speak!

Next thing I know I’m out of the saddle, onto her neck, and then sailing through the air and right into a tree. I lay there on the side of the trail trying to breathe.  When I hit the tree I collapsed my lung and broke 10 ribs (5-11 were flail), broke my collar bone, and fractured my scapula in three places.

At some point I knew I needed to get out to the road if I was to get any help, so off I crawled.  I was very lucky to have a young man come along and he went to the camp attendants to get help.  Jim and his wife were with me right up until I was transported by STARS.  They kept my dog and horse safe until they could be brought back home. I am forever grateful for their help.

I heard the helicopter landing right there on the road and I thought, ‘how many times have I heard and seen STARS in the sky and never dreamed I would be in it one day.’ The crew was so fast and efficient, I truly believed them when they said, ‘you are going to be okay.’  As we made our way to Foothills hospital the voice that came through my headset kept reassuring me and walked me through all they were doing for me.

As I write this I need to include that it was barely a year ago that I watched STARS take my grandson, Tyson Hirbnak. We were camping in the backcountry in Dutch Creek and had a propane explosion which badly injured my grandson and my husband.  You can read about Ty’s story in the January 2014 STARS calendar. You can watch a STARS video featuring Ty here: http://articles.amazinghorsecountry.com/uploads/video/dombowsky1.mov

STARS has made a huge imprint in the lives of our family. Now when I hear and see STARS in the sky I have a flood of emotions, but mostly a deep gratitude in my heart for them and all they do.

Thank you STARS.

Deb resides in Calgary Alberta.

 

Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS

Ever heard of geocaching? How about geocaching on horseback?

For the 3rd year in a row, Amazing Backcountry is hosting The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS, a fundraiser for the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) that is now operating throughout all four western Canadian provinces.

Participating in the growing sport of Equine Geocaching, riders tap into their adventurous spirit to hide and find caches in amazing horse-accessible locations.

We want you!

Finding a geocache

Rider Susan Wall finds a geocache.

Riders from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are register to participate in the STARS fundraiser. It’s a great way to meet new people, explore new trails, and support a good cause. To date, riders participating in the Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS have raised over $37,000!  In 2013 alone, there were a total of 64 caches placed throughout Western Canada on 37 different trails, spanning a distance of 460km from Fort Assiniboine to Waterton, AB and the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan.

We are setting our sites high for 2014, looking to raise even more money and add even more riding areas in to Amazing Backcountrys new global Trail Guide.

Sound like fun? That’s what it’s all about, while at the same time raising money for the lifesaving organization of STARS.

How does it work?

The race begins on May 1st and ends on October 16th. ??If you’re not already an Amazing Backcountry member, you can easily sign up here.

Membership is completely free and only takes a minute. With your membership you have full access to the Trail Guide, Contests, Rider Forum, Library, Adventures, and our own Horse Riders Network.

ABC Race for STARS Cache Hiding

Riders Linda Fitzpatrick and Sam McPhedran on a cache – hiding mission.

Once a member you can choose to Ride for STARS and then head out for some great riding and exploring. Throughout the Race, find people to sponsor you: simply send them to your page on the Amazing Backcountry website where they can quickly and easily make an online donation. No trudging door-to-door with a pledge sheet! 100% of your sponsors’ donations go directly to STARS. Every donor will receive a tax receipt from STARS.

The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS is a very interactive event; with the exception of heading to the hills to hide and find geocaches, the Race is conducted online. Share your riding adventures, post pictures of your rides, chat with other riders, and view your individual donations and fundraising totals in real time.

Throughout the summer Amazing Backcountry also runs a variety of fun contests for participants. At the completion of the event, prizes are awarded to top fundraising riders at a fun-filled riding event.

This is a race after all, and the big winners are those riders that raise the most money for STARS!

A Friends and Family Activity

ABC Race for STARS - Cache Hide

Rider Mike Harink and his family have hidden caches at some amazing locations!

The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS – and Amazing Backcountry itself is a great activity for families, friends and riders of all disciplines.

Turn your rides in to social events by inviting friends and family along with you.

Not riding??? You can still be involved.

Choose your favourite horse and rider duo and sponsor them! Or take advantage of advertising opportunities by choosing to sponsor the fundraiser through a monetary contribution. The event is 100% volunteer run and costs, such as banking fees and advertising, are funded by our great event sponsors. Our advertising program for event sponsors includes newsletters with a distribution of over 12,000, Facebook posts, links on our website and, of course, your ad featured on our site.

Related Links:

Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS Information

Contact the Ride organizers, Brenda Murdock and Scott Phillips

STARS website

Geocaching events help support STARS

 Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

It’s no mystery for Brenda Murdoch. The New Norway area resident gets excited to be involved in fundraising for STARS.

Brenda combines her love for horses, the mystery of finding objects and raising money for charity by geo-caching in Alberta’s back country.

“It is a fun way to raise funds for STARS. We all know of someone in the community that has benefitted from the service,” said Brenda. “We ride horses in the back country where there is little or no access to hospitals, so it is double important for us to have a service like STARS come out when accidents happen.”

Geo-caching is not limited to geography because stations are set up throughout Alberta.

“It’s not limited by time. We hold a special one-day event, but people can complete the tasks from spring to fall. We hold a fundraising event in each province, but not everyone can attend that day,” continued Brenda. “It’s one big blanket fundraiser for Alberta.”

Geo-caches are hidden in back country spots and riders find them with their horses and GPS trackers. Each rider looks for sponsors, or has a web site on which people can donate. Brenda raised the sixth highest amount this summer.

New Norway resident, Brenda Murdock, equine geocaching with her horse in the mountains west of Longview, AB.

New Norway resident, Brenda Murdock, equine geocaching with her horse in the mountains west of Longview, AB.

“You can check how active each rider is and read their stories on experiences they have had,” said Brenda. “This is the first year we have had geo-caches all over Alberta. We have excellent riding spots along the Battle River, so it would be nice to have more local riders get involved. All you need is a computer, horse, GPS and a truck and trailer. You can take a camera and take pictures and then write about your adventures.”

Completing the tasks can be done by any level of riders.

“It’s fun and full of adventure. It is a new way to explore Alberta and go places you normally wouldn’t go,” said Brenda.

Every summer, Amazing Backcountry hosts The ABC Race for STARS, a horseback geo-caching event held throughout western Canada. Competing riders raise money for STARS Air Ambulance through pledges made online. In 2013, 194 donations were received amounting to $17,850. Over two years the total is $37,150.

“We credit everyone with the success of our organization not only in this province, but also as we usher in a new era of STARS in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. STARS has come a long way since our humble beginnings in 1985, but our main focus is still the same – it’s about the patient,” she added.

Amazing Backcountry riders has over 120 members throughout Alberta and Saskatchewan who participated in the STARS fundraiser. Top money earners for STARS were Mike Harink of Wetaskiwin, Alison Mannix of Rimbey, Scott Phillips of Spruceview, Kathy Wheeler of Calgary, Nicole Darling of Priddis and Brenda Murdock of New Norway.

“In conjunction with STARS, we look forward to expanding the ABC Race for STARS further across the western provinces and including even more riders,” said Brenda.

Amazing Backcountry is an equine geo-caching activity where horseback enthusiasts around the world hide and locate geocaches using their GPS and the Amazing Backcountry website. All caches are tracked online and each contains a log book and items left for trade between riders. There are currently 64 caches placed on 37 different trails throughout Western Canada.