2 May 2011

Richie McCaw issues challenge to kick off the 2011 Chopper Appeal

Westpac ambassador Richie McCaw is getting behind this year’s Chopper Appeal (May 2 - 31) challenging school students around the country to raise the most money for their local rescue helicopter.

Richie will make a special visit in a Rescue Chopper to the school that raises the highest amount per pupil before May 31 - so any school, big or small, has a chance.

“I’m looking forward to touching down at the winning school – wherever in New Zealand that may be,” Richie says. “The idea is to have fun while raising as much money as possible for your local rescue chopper – you never know when you, your family or a friend might find themselves in a life or death situation and need the chopper.”

For the last 30 years Westpac has been supporting the rescue choppers and for more than 5,000 Kiwis last year, the sound of a chopper’s rotor blades was often the sound of a second chance.

Operated by 16 charitable trusts nationwide, many of the choppers act as flying intensive care units providing a dedicated 24/7 service. From a defibrillator for a premature baby to full life support systems, they are equipped to deal with almost any situation.

Mark Graham, Westpac’s National Sponsorship Manager, says the majority of funding for this unique service comes from the community, sponsors like Westpac and other fundraising activities.

“Without the support of New Zealanders, many helicopter emergency rescues simply couldn’t happen,” Mr Graham says. “Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Appeal so that 100% of funds raised can go straight back to the local rescue helicopter trusts where they’re needed most.”

Running throughout May, the national Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by Open Days at select Rescue Helicopter bases, the sale of a special limited edition range of Huffer gear, and fundraising activities such as auctions, as well as a nationwide street appeal on Friday, May 20.

Schools have until May 13 to register for Richie McCaw’s Chopper Challenge. For more information and to register, email westpac_chopper_appeal@westpac.co.nz

During May, donations for the 2011 Appeal can be made:

  • At any Westpac Branch
  • By texting CHOPPER to 3181to make a $3 donation
  • By phone on 0900 4 CHOPPER (0900-4246-7737) to make a $20 donation
  • On the web at www.chopperappeal.co.nz.

Westpac is the major sponsor of the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury Westpac rescue helicopters and Waikato Air Ambulance, and through the Westpac Chopper Appeal helps all other regional helicopter services around New Zealand.