Sitting in a hospital emergency room waiting for stitches for one’s daughter is rarely the sort of thing that inspires personal challenge or philanthropy.

For Rockland resident and Maine native Jessie Davis however, an evening spent at Pen Bay Medical Center became the catalyst for both, in the form of an open-water swim to Islesboro that will raise funds for LifeFlight of Maine.

“It was a snowy night in February 2010 and it was obvious from the traffic in the ER that night that conditions were proving treacherous for many people,” recalled Davis. “As my husband and I waited to have our daughter treated, I noticed EMTs from many communities coming and going with patients. The one that really got my attention, however, was the Islesboro ambulance. Seeing them there made me really marvel at the logistics of providing emergency care in many of Maine’s communities: be they on the islands, the North Woods, or wherever.”

With her daughter making a full recovery and the scar on her forehead fading, normal life resumed without much thought of that ER visit, although the image of the calm focus of the emergency medical providers bringing patients through the storm lingered in Davis’ memory.

In 2012 Davis, a recreational runner and swimmer, heard of friends swimming the three mile crossing from Lincolnville to Islesboro. Deciding to attempt the swim herself, Davis hit upon the idea of making it into a fundraiser. In pondering potential beneficiaries the memory of that evening in the ER returned and inspired her selection.

“As I thought about swimming to Islesboro, I became focused on the effort it would take to cross from the mainland to the island, and realized that was a pretty good metaphor for what it takes to provide emergency services to rural and offshore communities in Maine.” said Davis. “I decided to swim for LifeFlight as I feel that with their statewide reach and critical place in the emergency medical service chain, it’s something every Mainer should take pride in and stand behind.”

Amy Root, director of development at the LifeFlight Foundation, embraced the idea of the fundraising swim with enthusiasm and, working with foundation staffers, board members, community members, and LifeFlight crew members, has broadened the initial idea into the “Islesboro Crossing,” a team swim scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17.

“We hope this will be the first of many “Islesboro Crossings” and are very grateful to Jessie for sharing both her idea and what began as a very personal physical challenge,” said Root. “This inaugural event is intended to be a team swim that will allow participants to challenge themselves with one of the longest open ocean swims in New England, to raise funds for LifeFlight, and to help symbolize the importance of teamwork in the emergency medical community.”

Experienced swimmers who are interested in being part of the team can register online at The deadline to sign up is Aug. 2 and the entrance fee per swimmer is $100. For further details on the swim, including logistics and safety information, contact the LifeFlight Foundation at 230-7092 or email