Less than a month ago, Scotty MacLaren, 79, and 10 friends set out to skydive over Campbell River for a cause.
The event was also held in commemoration of MacLaren’s wife, Sheran, who passed away last year, and to raise funds for Campbell River Search and Rescue. The campaign started earlier in the year with him announcing he wanted to make a jump, and soon more were signing on.
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Through the day on July 9, the group made tandem jumps, with MacLaren making the last one.
“The 10, they had my back,” MacLaren said. “I was team leader.”
Through their efforts to drum up support, they managed to raise a total of $28,175.50. A few of the skydivers – Kim Patrick, Dianne White, Patricia Davis and Jim Costain – were alongside MacLaren Tuesday night to present the cheque.
“I’m glad to be a part of this. This is a such a great cause,” Costain said.
The money will be used to help the search and rescue team purchase a couple of new ATVs, or quads.
“I really wanted you guys to get the two quads,” he told search and rescue members at their headquarters.
There are 43 active members of the search team and many were on hand for the presentation.
“You guys did an amazing job,” search and rescue treasurer Karen Hutton told MacLaren and the team. “It exceeds out wildest expectations in terms of the amount you raised.”
There was also some in-kind support for the project, most notably from Pacific Airsports’ Roy Wharton, who donated the jumps and fly-time for the event.
“I had a great team behind me,” he said. “The 28,000 [dollars] just blew me away.”
The current pair of ATVs that search and rescue use are approximately a dozen years old, so it’s time for some new equipment. When trying saving lives, especially in the wilderness, reliable equipment is not a luxury but a requirement for doing the work.
“One of the biggest problems is just the availability of parts,” said Tim Strange, a search manager and member of specialty teams. “We have had issues.”
For the current Arctic Cat ATVs, parts are starting to become an issue, as they become harder to find. The search and rescue team expect to get the new models and a trailer in the next month or so.
“We’re getting the brand new models in September. Obviously, we didn’t want to wait to say thank-you,” Hutton said. “We’re so looking forward to getting our two new quads and trailer.”
Search and rescue will also be looking for new recruits. They plan to hold an open house in October, with an eye toward training new members by next February or March.
“Do you take 80-year-olds?” MacLaren joked with Hutton.
Campbell River Search and Rescue covers an area well beyond the city, extending from Oyster River in the south to Port Hardy in the north and over to the Mainland to communities such as Bella Coola. Through mutual aid agreements, the team has also assisted other search and rescue operations in areas as far away as Terrace and Hadai Gwaii.