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North Country Life Flight focus

"I felt that I could make a difference," she said.

Most recently, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of North Country Life Flight's founding, Washburn levied a challenge to her fellow community members to raise $20,000. It's a challenge she hopes will both raise money and awareness for all the organizations does.

"I feel that not many people really know a lot about Life Flight," she said. "They may see the helicopter, but not know what they really do until, like me, they need their services."

Mary Jane Connors, president and chief executive officer of North Country Life Flight, said she was more than pleased to learn of Washburn's goal.

"I think it's great what she's doing," said Connors. "Since she was helped by Life Flight, she's made it her role to pay it forward so it will be here for the next person and so they won't have to worry about the cost either."

North Country Life Flight utilizes helicopters from the New York State Police aviation unit in its mission, explained Connors. The main expenses for which North Country Life Flight is responsible - an amount that fluctuates year after year depending on the number of people it serves - are providing medical equipment, medications and a combination of paid and volunteer medical personnel who are nationally-certified.

In order to do this, North Country Life Flight relies on support it receives through fundraisers and occasional grant funding. However, the medevac service mainly relies on donations from the community at large, said Connors.

"Our largest funding is from individual donations," she said. "In fact, that's what's enabled us to be free for so long."

North Country Life Flight is the only nonprofit medevac service in the area, explained Connors, serving Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Warren, Washington, Hamilton, Herkimer and portions of Jefferson and Lewis counties. The second closest medevac services for the region fly out of Albany and Syracuse and are commercial services, charging patients roughly $20,000 per flight or more.

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