Albertans hoping to duplicate the success of a recent Red Deer home lottery winner who bought her lucky ticket on the day of the draw will likely have to act much quicker if they want to win one of the grand prizes in the annual STARS lottery.
By the morning of Thursday’s public launch, 47.9 per cent of the 1,133,000 tickets for the draw had already been sold and if last year’s lottery is any indication, all tickets will probably be gone before the early bird draw even takes place.
The Alberta-wide lottery, which last year brought in over $10 million for the air ambulance helicopter service, sees five grand prizes on offer — dream homes in Red Deer, Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge plus a truck and fifth wheel trailer combo.
Last year, the lottery sold out in five weeks and its 21st iteration this year stands two weeks ahead of that pace based on sales open only to previous supporters since Dec. 28.
Another early sellout, while not good for procrastinators, would help STARS even more, because it would lower its expenses related to the lottery, said Rae Fehr, director of enterprise fundraising.
“The quicker we sell out the less we have to spend on advertising and it gives us a better bottom line. This year if we can sell out quickly, we could make as much as $11 million,” he said.
The 2014 lottery features 3,217 prizes worth more than $5.6 million. In addition to the homes, there are vehicles, vacations and everything from camping gear to helicopter rides.
The lottery is the single largest fundraising initiative for the non-profit air ambulance service, which flew over 1,600 missions out of bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie in 2013.
For the second consecutive year, one of the grand prize homes to be won is in Red Deer, a 2,504-square-foot two-storey abode in Vanier Woods East.
Worth $945,000, the furnished home displays a double garage and a grand, arched entrance when viewed from the street. Inside, there are three bedrooms and a stone fireplace that rises six metres from the ground floor all the way to the roof.
The master bedroom features an en suite not separated by a door or wall where there is both a jacuzzi bath and a remote-controlled shower system.
Larissa Helbig will definitely be buying a ticket for the lottery. She has supported STARS through the lottery for a number of years already, but does so more earnestly now that she has directly benefitted from the service provided.
A bison rancher near Devon, Helbig was tending the herd on a Monday morning in August 2012 when she was “beat up” by one of her animals.
“I was gored — a lot of damage, a lot of injuries,” said Helbig, 38.
While she slipped in and out of consciousness, ground ambulance personnel arrived at the scene and made the quick decision to call STARS. A helicopter came out and after loading Helbig in, they got her to hospital in Edmonton in seven minutes.
“I definitely wouldn’t be here without the help and support of STARS,” she said.
In Edmonton, she received emergency surgery to treat her two collapsed lungs and a “completely shattered rib cage.” She spent five weeks in hospital and still requires more work to be done, but still maintains the bison herd, albeit a bit more cautiously these days.
She said she supports the service because it helps people right at the ground — or air — level.
“You just never know when it’s going to happen to you. You can’t sit here and say you’ll never need it, because I could have said the same thing.”
To be won in the lottery are 10 vehicles, 30 vacations, 1,928 electronic prizes and over 1,000 other prizes. The two early bird prizes, available to those who buy before March 5, are $100,000 cash and a prize package including a 2014 BMW car, a Las Vegas vacation and $5,000.
The early bird draw is set for March 20, with the final draw set for April 17. Tickets for the final draw have to be purchased by March 26. If tickets sell out prior to the early bird deadline, all draws will begin on March 24, assuming approval from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
Tickets are priced the same as last year — $25 per ticket or three for $60, six for $100, or 18 for $250. Tickets are available through www.starslotteryalberta.ca, by calling 1-888-880-0992, or by visiting the Red Deer home at 40 Valley Green in Vanier Woods East. Visiting hours for the home are 1-6 p.m. daily Saturday to Thursday.
For more information, visit www.starslotteryalberta.ca.