Humboldt Broncos crash survivor donates book sales to air ambulance that saved him

·3 min read
Former Humboldt Bronco, Kaleb Dahlgren, is donating all the proceeds from his best-selling book to STARS air ambulance.  (Submitted by Kaleb Dahlgren - image credit)
Former Humboldt Bronco, Kaleb Dahlgren, is donating all the proceeds from his best-selling book to STARS air ambulance. (Submitted by Kaleb Dahlgren - image credit)

Kaleb Dahlgren didn't know about Shock Trauma Air Rescue (STARS) air ambulance until the night his life was saved.

The then-teenager was travelling with his Saskatchewan junior hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos, when a semi-truck failed to yield at a stop sign and collided with the bus Dahlgren was on near Armley, about 335 km north of Regina, on April 6, 2018.

Sixteen people died and 13 were injured.

Dahlgren was not airlifted that night, but received support from STARS paramedics and other first responders. Others involved in the tragedy received medical attention on board STARS air ambulances, run by the non-profit organization, which serves Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta.

"Their work is truly incredible. They usually do eight life-saving missions a day," said Dahlgren, who is from Saskatoon.

"What hurt my heart personally was the fact that I didn't know about their service. I didn't know what they did for Saskatchewan residents, or for even the prairie provinces."

Dahlgren shares his personal story of tragedy and resilience in his memoir Crossroads, which quickly became a No. 1 national bestseller since launching on March 16, 2021.

He said the intent of the book was always to help people. Last Friday, the 24-year-old announced he was donating the $50,000 in proceeds, which he earned from Crossroads, to STARS.

"There's nothing more valuable than a second chance at life. And for me to be able to support them, and maybe save another person's life in the future, was a no brainer," said Dahlgren, who is currently based in Toronto and studying at York University.

WATCH | Kaleb Dahlgren speaks about his book Crossroads:

Challenge to match donation

Dahlgren is now challenging people to give what they can, to help match his donation online for a total gift of $100,000 within the week.

STARS is currently in the final stages of its capital campaign to renew its fleet with medically-equipped H145 helicopters, at a cost of $13-million each.

"Our first fleet lasted 36 years, and so a new fleet for Saskatchewan is a generational investment. It means we're going to be there for decades and decades to come," said Andrea Robertson, president and CEO of STARS.

"We are very close to paying off the entire fleet, and that is due to efforts on so many fronts."

With government and corporate support, STARS began taking delivery of the 10 new helicopters in 2019, flying hundreds of missions in Saskatchewan with them since.

The air ambulance still needs to raise $3-million in the next few months. It expects to see the remainder of the new fleet enter service across Western Canada through 2022.

Submitted by Kaleb Dahlgren
Submitted by Kaleb Dahlgren

Pegasus Project auction slated Friday

Dahlgren's announcement comes at the same time another STARS fundraiser, known as the Pegasus Project, reaches its conclusion.

On Friday, a Saskatchewan-built, one-of-a-kind, 1968 Ford Mustang coupe will be auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona starting 3 p.m. CST. All proceeds will be donated to STARS.

Saskatoon-based Vaughn Wyant, owner of the automotive Wyant Group, and the co-chair of Project Pegagsus, which organized the seed money to have the car built, said the group was inspired to make a difference following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The project kicked off in June 2021 with a months-long road show across the province, raising money for STARS and local first responders. Dahlgren was at many of the events, meeting people and signing books to promote the fundraiser.

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