FRISCO — The Frisco Adventure Park was buzzing on a lovely Saturday morning during the Frisco Free Family Fun Fair. The event included the Strider for Life tyke bike race benefiting Flight For Life’s Summit County organization. In its fifth year, the race has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the nonprofit medical air transport service.
The fun fair had all sorts of free activities for kids, including a climbing wall, a magician and kid-friendly comedy, face painting, Tumble Bubbles, a bouncy castle, a bungee jump ride and, of course, the tiny bike races. Peals of laughter and excited screams rang across the Adventure Park on a day that was all about the kids.
The Strider for Life fundraiser featured pedal-less bike races for young children ages 1 through 5, along with a silent auction and raffle with in-kind donations from sponsors. The tiny racers scrambled around on the low-lying Strider bikes, using their feet to accelerate around the dirt tracks, climbing over small hills and around obstacles on their way to the finish line manned by Flight For Life paramedics.
The first Strider for Life race was held in 2015 and had 82 children participants who raised $6,600 for Summit County’s Flight For Life group. In 2018, the event raised more than $20,000 to help purchase an ambulance, and this year its organizers are aiming to raise $30,000 to help Flight For Life purchase advanced rescue technology and equipment.
The event was started in 2015 by Brittany Gilbert, who twice had her life saved by Flight For Life transport, and Mary Elaine Moore, owner of the Stork Bear Co. toy store on Main Street in Frisco.
Moore, who coordinates the event and manages its volunteers, said she and Gilbert were inspired to start the fundraiser after the tragic Flight For Life helicopter crash at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center on July 5, 2015, in Frisco.
The crash took the life of pilot Patrick Mahany and severely injured flight nurses Dave Repsher and Matt Bowe. Repsher suffered full-thickness burns to 90% of his body but survived and went through a grueling recovery. Since the crash, Repsher has been a stalwart supporter of legislative efforts to make helicopters safer.
Among those attending Saturday’s event was a young woman who is especially thankful for Repsher and Flight For Life’s life-saving mission. Sophia Jones, an 8-year-old Breckenridge resident, was three when she suffered a fever-induced seizure that required immediate life-saving treatment.
Repsher was one of the flight nurses who tended to Jones and helped save her life. Jones and her parents, Rae Ann Harris and Jeff Jones, said they are grateful every day for Repsher’s efforts and for the crews of the Flight For Life helicopters buzzing across Summit’s skies like bright orange guardian angels.
Eight-year-old Sophia Jones enjoys the Free Family Fun Fest on Saturday with her family at the Frisco Adventure Park. When Sophia was 3 years old, the Breckenridge native was saved by Flight For Life crews.
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Moore said the Strider for Life race has grown every year since it was founded, and she thanked participants, donors and sponsors for continuing to show how grateful Summit County is for its air ambulance service.
“Families still come out in droves to support and recognize Flight For Life,” Moore said. “It is something we are passionate about, to support an organization that is so visible and so needed here.”