In an adventure that started with a near-fatal mountain biking crash, two Calgary friends are about to start a cross-Canada journey in support of STARS Air Ambulance.
In November 2016, Guy Leblanc and Jeremy Carabeo were biking in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, on a trail near Moose Mountain when Carabeo crashed while coming down a steep trail. He says he has no memory of the incident, but Leblanc remembers how shocking it was to find his best friend lying on the trail unconscious.
“It happens pretty quick,” Leblanc recalled. “You see your friend lying on the ground, I wanted to do as much as I could, but you don’t want to move him too much because I’m not a doctor I don’t know what to do.
“There’s a lot of feeling on that day for sure and I was in shock. But he was in good hands and he was going to the hospital right away and the people would take care of him.”
In a remote area with no cell phone, the pair was fortunate that a doctor happened to be on the trail as well. Lucky, as well, that STARS was able to fly in from Calgary and get Carabeo out with a sling. He was taken to the Foothills hospital in Calgary in serious condition with a brain injury.
“I definitely owe STARS a lot because they are the ones that saved my life,” Carabeo said on Monday. “It still gets emotional just thinking about it.”
“During a critical moment, there weren’t any EMS vehicles and there wasn’t any access out there at all.”
Amazed by the work STARS does, Leblanc has decided to bike across Canada to raise money and awareness for the air ambulance service.
“I want to meet as many people as I can and I want to inform people about what STARS does and tell them the great work they do,” Leblanc said.
Despite still recovering from the crash that nearly claimed his life, Carabeo will be back on his bike supporting Leblanc as he rides through the Alberta portion of his cross Canada adventure. They plan to ride from Calgary to Regina where they’ll give a talk at the STARS base in the region.
“I want to say that I worked hard through this with all sorts of therapy and exercising and trying to build myself up and just to get back to this level,” Carabeo said. “I’m not 100 per cent yet but definitely will be there.”
Leblanc’s first goal was to raise $5,400 — the average cost of a STARS mission. He’s already reached $8,000 and his cross-country bike ride, which starts in Vancouver, doesn’t get underway until June 1.
You can follow Leblanc’s journey online at #GuyRides4STARS.
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