PORT CLYDE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – Linda Bean donated $3 million to LifeFlight Thursday to help it purchase a new helicopter for the state. LifeFlight had a small ceremony in Port Clyde to celebrate the donation that will help save lives around Maine.
Maine has come to depend on LifeFlight helicopters to save lives. Over the past 10 years, the two helicopters have flown 18,000 people to major hospitals around the state, says LifeFlight’s Executive Director Tom Judge. However, he said the non-profit sometimes receives more calls than it can handle, making patients with life threatening injuries wait or take ground ambulances instead.
“We had one day early this summer where we literally got nine calls for helicopters ranging from Fort Kent to Calais to York to Sanford all within the space of two hours, and there just wasn’t any way to meet that need,” said Judge.
Bean’s donation is half of the cost of a helicopter. Bean, the owner of Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster, and Judge said they hope to fundraise the rest of the money to buy and equip the helicopter and have it in service before next summer.
“(I’m) very excited about the possibility we can complete this project. I’m gonna drive it myself to try to raise the rest of the money by the end of this year in the holiday season,” said Bean.
Bean’s donation is the result of a tragedy in July, 2013, when an out-of-control car struck and killed a 9-year-old boy on the dock in Port Clyde. Dylan Gold died while being taken to a waiting helicopter two miles away. Bean lives in the town part of the year, and said when she met the Dylan’s mother this past summer, her story brought her to tears.
“And she had us all weeping…and I can only tell you it was compelling in my own heart,” said Bean.
Local fisherman Gerry Cushman also spoke at Thursday’s event, urging people to donate to complete the purchase of the additional helicopter.