It was eight years ago this week that STARS air ambulance saved a Lacombe man after a horrific crash.
That’s why Jason Lunn, 47, who ended up wheelchair-bound from a collision with a semi-trailer unit, wanted to attend the STARS Lottery kickoff at Parkland Mall on Thursday.
“STARS means everything. I wouldn’t be here today if they weren’t flying that day,” said Lunn.
“They provide a service that is second to none. They just do a great thing. They save a lot of people’s lives, so I think people should recognize they should support (STARS Lottery).”
Lunn said on Jan. 14, 2011, during a whiteout on Highway 2 near the Lacombe Highway 12 overpass, his car was rear-ended by a semi.
He broke his neck and was left with a spinal cord injury.
Lunn said he doesn’t recall much about his ride to Edmonton’s Royal Alexander Hospital by STARS helicopter.
“I was in and out. The only thing I remember from the flight there, was my arm was cold up against the side of the helicopter.”
As a quadriplegic, Lunn spent five months in hospital and in rehabilitation. With ongoing physiotherapy at Lacombe Hospital, he continues to achieve new things each week.
He has his licence to drive with hand controls, coached his son’s football team, and was a torch bearer for the 25th Rick Hansen Anniversary Relay.
“Being put into a wheelchair, you can’t do the same things you used to. You can, but just in a different way. It’s just great to be here,” Lunn said.
STARS spokesman Jeffrey Buhr said out of the more than 1,400 missions STARS flew last year, just under 100 were to the Red Deer area.
“Our hope is this year’s lottery will bring in $11 million for operations for STARS,” Buhr said.
He said STARS is working with donors to fund the replacement of its fleet — nine helicopters at $13 million each — so operational funding from lottery ticket sales is even more important.
In addition to the grand prizes of three fully furnished luxury homes in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge, the 2019 STARS Lottery has its biggest early bird prize ever — a fully furnished townhome on Kelowna’s Sunset Drive valued at $963,395, along with $20,000 in perks and $30,000 cash.
The early bird cutoff date is Feb. 28.
In total, there are 2,809 lottery prizes worth more than $4.5 million.
The 50/50 draw has the potential to be the largest 50/50 payout ever in Alberta at $2 million if it sells out like it has in the past.
For more information, visit starslotteryalberta.ca