International family affair kicks off LifeFlight’s Run to Rescue

Denise, Chiara & Mitchell Heffernan with Jodi Durkin

A woman has recounted the day her father would have died, had it not been for the efforts of an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue aeromedical team.

With less than a week to go, until the beginning of RACQ LifeFlight’s Run to Rescue event, Denise Heffernan and her family have shared their story, in an effort to encourage others to sign up for the fundraiser.

Denise and her three siblings, based across Queensland and in the United Kingdom, registered for the Run to Rescue, to help give back to the service, which saved their Dads’ life earlier this year.

Chiara & Mitchell Heffernan with their ‘Nonno’

“On Anzac day this year, my father suffered a major stroke at home and required urgent airlifting to Brisbane, for lifesaving surgery,” Ms Heffernan said.

“Whilst on board the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter, he also suffered a heart attack but he survived, due to the fact that he had medical assistance in time.”

Run to Rescue, happening throughout July, is a fitness challenge. Community members are being asked to sign up on the Run to Rescue website, set fundraising and distance goals, then complete their mission.

Jodi Durkin, LifeFlight Foundation Regional Development Manager talks about the Run to Rescue fundraising initiatve. Denise and her young children are shown around the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue hangar. 

“An RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter can travel up to 20,000 kilometres in one month, so we’re asking participants to collectively match that,” LifeFlight Regional Development Manager, Jodi Durkin, said.

Participants will be able to track their progress on the Run to Rescue website, too.

Back in April, the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue chopper flew 170km to get Denise’s dad from Gympie to the Princess Alexandra Hospital, so the family has set that distance as their Run to Rescue goal.

“As he’s learning to walk again, we want to walk alongside him,” Ms Heffernan said.

The family has set their fundraising goal at $12,000, which is around the average cost of an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter mission.

“Our first two donors were actually my children, who’ve emptied their bank accounts, and pledged $250 each to our cause,” she said.

The importance of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters isn’t lost on 7-year-old Chiara Heffernan.

“If someone’s in danger, they really need someone to help them.”

Every dollar raised will help cover essential costs, to help keep RACQ LifeFlight Rescue choppers flying to save the lives of people like Denise’s father.

“It means a lot that LifeFlight was there, when we needed it,” she said.

“Growing up on a farm, we often had LifeFlight flying overhead and we never imagined that one of us would be on board.”

Registration is free and all participants will be provided with fundraising and fitness tips, as well as more information about the lifesaving aeromedical service.

“You can take part on your own, or in a team and complete the kilometres anywhere,” Ms Durkin said.

“It’s a fun, easy way to exercise and raise money for this lifesaving service.”

Visit to learn more.

Photos and audio courtesy RACQ LifeFlight Rescue