One cold and blustery day in January 2015, lawyer Peggy Benko was busy working in her office when she suddenly collapsed.

An ambulance rushed her to the hospital. She’d had a ruptured brain aneurysm and needed immediate surgery, but the nearest availability was a three-hour drive away.

“They said it didn’t look good,” said her husband Kelvin Benko, recalling the moment he received the phone call while having coffee with his mother. “They said the only way is if STARS has a chance to take her.”

Snow was swirling that day, but the two STARS pilots on shift that day carefully analyzed the weather along the route and determined it was safe to fly.

The surgery was a success.

“Without STARS I probably would not have made it,” said Peggy. “And I probably would have had brain damage if I would have made it.”

Instead, eight months later she was able to walk her son down the aisle for his wedding, and a year after that, became a grandmother to twin girls.

“I wouldn’t have been able to experience any of that had it not been for STARS.”

She credits a long list of ‘angels’ who made it possible.

STARS, I call them my ‘flying angels,’” she smiled. “I had many angels that day, starting right off from when I fell in my office. My first angel would have been my assistant Donna who did CPR on me. Then I had the ambulance, and the people at the hospital, and then my surgeons.

“Of course, the STARS crew, they were obviously very wonderful.

She’s so appreciative, in fact, that she wrote STARS into her will.

“Planned giving is a great way to let your memory go on,” said Peggy. “It’s very important to me, and I, of course, have left a bequest in my will to STARS, and I encourage people to do that. That’s a great way to support STARS. A bequest made helps these people do what they do and to save more people.”

Kelvin is on board with the generosity.

“Thank you to STARS,” he said. “If it wouldn’t have been for STARS to get her there, she would be dead. She wouldn’t have survived. It’s thanks to STARS.”

Watch Peggy share her story here.

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