STARS Air Ambulance has officially launched its 2018 lottery in Grande Prairie. The lottery has sold out 23 of its 25 years, and base manager Greg Schmidt says a typical sellout brings in around $11 million.
“Last year wasn’t quite a sellout, almost a sellout so with the economy picking up and encouragement in the area and throughout Alberta we hope this year will be another sellout for us.”
STARS raises around $33 million a year, and the proceeds of the annual lottery go toward operations. This year the organization is handing out more than 3,000 prizes worth $4.7 million. Among them are homes in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge and $500,000 cash.
Lionel Robins has volunteered with STARS for the past decade, and recently took over as director of the STARS Foundation committee. He got to see the benefit of the air rescue service first hand last year when a driver for his family’s trucking company, TLR Enterprises, was involved in a crash on Highway 40.
“A big crane truck came and ripped right through the cab of our truck and he had to bail out into the ditch at highway speeds. STARS flew him in and it was a pretty traumatic day for all of us, so it kind of brought me closer to STARS.”
Robins encourages Albertans to buy a ticket, not only for the prizes, but to make sure STARS stays in the air. Schmidt echoes that sentiment, calling it an essential service.
“Like a lot of things in life, we sort of take STARS for granted. This is the most important fundraiser we do, and this allows us to continue to give excellence to our patients and this allows us to make sure we’re there tomorrow for the next patient that needs us.”
The Grande Prairie base gets about 300 calls a year, and transports anywhere between 200 and 250 patients. More information on the STARS Lottery can be found online.