A lottery that helps an air ambulance service get off the ground and help save people’s lives in rural and remote areas of Saskatchewan has launched.
The 2016 STARS Lottery Saskatchewan kicked off from inside the 3,186 square-foot, $1.5 million grand prize show home in Pilot Butte.
Dean Becker knows how important the air ambulance is. The Rocanville native has used the service twice.
In September 2013, Becker went to hospital in Moosomin with what he thought was simply the flu. He said it turned out to be an aortic tear. It was a diagnosis doctors told him he’d have to go to Regina to get the proper care. However, since medical staff believed the Trans-Canada Highway would have been too rough for his sensitive condition, he had to be flown instead.
“They figured I never would have made it. Probably the chances are I would not be here if STARS wouldn’t have transported me,” he said.
A little over a year later, Becker had a cardiac arrest where once again, he needed the help of STARS.
“I couldn’t have done it without them. I know I wouldn’t be here.”
Last year was the first time the lottery sold out since it first began in 2012. Mark Oddan with STARS Saskatchewan said they hope to sell out again, meaning 149,800 tickets would need to be snatched up. As of Thursday, he said 46 per cent of the main lottery has already been sold.
Two showhomes up for grabs in the lottery — one in Pilot Butte and one in Saskatoon. Besides those, there are a number vehicles, vacations, electronics, jewellery and cash to be won. In all, there are 2,019 prize worth over $4 million. A 50/50 draw could net the winner up to $775,000.
The lottery is STARS biggest fundraiser. Half of the organization’s funding comes from the province. The other half, which equates to roughly $11 million, is to be raised through corporate donations, community events and public fundraisers.
On average, STARS flies out of its two bases in Regina and Saskatoon a total of three times each day. Oddan estimated a single flight costs $5,400. However, those flights have resulted in thousands of lives being saved, like Becker’s. That’s why a lottery such as this is so important to their ongoing efforts to remain airborne.
“It is vital to our operations. It’s literally vital to keeping STARS in the sky so we can continue to help the critically ill and injured across the province,” said Oddan.
More information on tickets can be found at starslotterysaskatchewan.ca.