On Beckham Koscielny’s 8th birthday this winter, he went sledding with a small group of friends.
He ripped down the snowy hill and over the bumps, giggling all the way. He’s the same on a ski hill, with a snowboard strapped to his feet, twisting 180-degree turns and taking all the jumps. This summer he will explore his community on his bike.
What might seem like small feats for some are major milestones for Beckham and his family.
When he was only six weeks old, Beckham fell gravely ill.
He was fussy, sweaty, and cold to the touch. When he let out a disturbing cry, his parents knew this wasn’t a normal flu or cold.
By the time he arrived at the hospital near his rural home Beckham’s lips were blue. The medical staff knew the little boy needed urgent, specialized care and equipment they couldn’t provide in the small rural hospital. With no time to waste, STARS was requested to transport him to a children’s hospital.
As hard as it was for his parents to watch their baby leave in a helicopter, they knew he was in good hands with STARS’ flight paramedic and nurse onboard.
Within days, the Koscielny family learned that Beckham had an enlarged heart, which couldn’t pump blood properly. He arrived at the hospital at exactly the right time.
“STARS will always have a special place in our hearts, and we’re grateful,” said his father, Bryce. “I can’t say thank you enough. Thank you isn’t enough.”
Likewise, the Koscielny family means a lot to STARS. Over the years, Beckham has visited the STARS base to reunite with his crew, has been the guest of honour at several STARS events — including dropping the puck at a staff hockey tournament — his family has volunteered for fundraisers, and Beckham was featured on the cover of our annual calendar.
“It’s awesome to see a little guy with a ton of energy, just a regular little kid having fun enjoying life,” said Beckham’s flight nurse, Alan Mart, when they reunited a couple of years after the mission.
Although Beckham’s heart is still dilated and he will take medication for life, it hasn’t slowed him down one bit, said his mother, Rochelle Koscielny.
And although it strikes a bit of fear in her when Beckham is participating in sports, she tries to not hold him back.
“We have one life to live, and I don’t want to stifle him or keep him from what makes him happy,” she said. “Just because he has this condition, I don’t want him to be treated differently.”
Every year on April 11, the anniversary of her son’s mission with STARS, the memories come flooding back for Rochelle. “It’s ingrained in me forever,” she said. “Without STARS, Becks would not be here today, because we live so far away from urgent care. Whenever I look up and see that helicopter it’s a poignant reminder about how far he’s come. STARS is a necessity.”