Frances Wakelin and her friend were driving to a funeral when they missed a turn in the road.

“Instead of staying on the pavement, we hit the gravel, and we flipped three times,” said Frances.

“As a result of that, I had my first three vertebrae broken and crushed.”

STARS flew her to the hospital, the smooth transport reducing her risk of further injury. She then underwent a five-hour surgery to fuse the injured vertebrae together.

“I’m blessed because I can walk,” she said. “I’m very thankful, and I really believe if it hadn’t been for STARS it could have been a lot worse.”

Less than a year later, Frances was back at her profession as a seamstress, still keeping a smile on her face despite some ongoing challenges from the crash.

She has completed 73 three-hour physiotherapy sessions and is now regularly visiting a gym with a personal trainer.

Frances now lives with eight pins in her head, a factor STARS plays a small role in managing.

“I wear your toque,” she wrote in a recent email, “because my head is full of metal, and it keeps my head warm and prevents major headaches, as this winter has been extremely cold.”

She’s grateful to the allies and crew who keep STARS in the sky.

“Well, it’s just like some other things, and that is, you don’t appreciate it until it happens to you,” she said. “And once it happens to you you’re very, very thankful, and you really have an attitude of gratitude that it exists.”