Saskatchewan’s STARS Air Ambulance has launched their biggest fundraiser of the year.
Tickets for the STARS Home Lottery are now available through their website and are offering 1,800 prizes valued at over $4.2 million. This year’s grand prize homes are located in Greenbryre Estates in Saskatoon and in Spruce Creek Estates in Pilot Butte.
STARS spokesperson Mark Oddan says the organization has been forced to cancel or postpone some of their usual fundraisers such as the gala due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lottery doesn’t require a lot of person-to-person contact and not many changes have been made in how it operates.
The only changes made are that people will not be able to visit the show homes but Oddan says they will be providing photos and virtual tours to give people a sense and feel for the houses.
Vacation prizes winners will also be given another year extension allowing them to use them within two years. They can also trade them in for a travel voucher for the same value with no expiration date if they don’t like the travel location.
Roughly half of the $20-million a year needed to operate the Saskatoon and Regina bases comes from the Government of Saskatchewan while the rest is made in fundraisers. Oddan says the lottery generally brings in about $2 million of their yearly budget.
He says communities around the province are still in need of their services
“Our mission volumes tell us that STARS is still very much needed and as long as we are needed and we can continue to count on the community for their support, we will continue to be here 24/7 to help people in need when they may be having the worst day of their lives.”
He says STARS has visited the City of Lloydminster over 40 times in the past year bringing patients to hospitals in both Edmonton and Saskatoon. At least 24 of those trips were made by the Saskatchewan arm of the organization.
“The helipad that is there has made our service even quicker, smoother and has improved the chance of a good outcome for patients there.”
Like all services across the country, STARS has put in extra precautions and protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We have extra protective equipment, extra sanitation and safety measures because the safety and health of our patients, communities and crew are of the utmost importance. We still continue and we’re still here 24/7 flying missions as we always have.”
Oddan understands it’s a tough time for many to donate because of the economic factors of COVID-19. He hopes those who can donate are able to support them.
“We know we have some of the best supporters in the world. We know STARS was built by the community and in essence is owned by the community. We know not everybody is in a position to donate or support STARS right now but we are hopeful that our allies will be able to be there for us as they have been for eight years in Saskatchewan and 35 years in Alberta.”
Tickets are available at STARSLotterySaskatchewan.ca or by calling 1-844-STARS SK (782-7775). Prices start at $60 for the main draw and $10 for the 50/50. The early bird deadline is June 25 and the final ticket sales are scheduled for July 16.