Former STARS patient Jayden Sorsdahl, 9, of Red Deer, toured a STARS helicopter on Thursday at Red Deer Airport during the public launch of the 2018 STARS Lottery. (Photo by Susan Zielinski/Advocate staff)


Grand prize homes in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge

A Red Deer family wants to remind Central Albertans it’s time to support STARS Lottery.

In March 2015 Jayen Sorsdahl, who was six at the time, was flown to Children’s Hospital in Calgary after his sodium levels plummeted and his organs started to shut down from a rare condition.

“Time was of the essence. If STARS wasn’t here, I don’t think Jayden would be here either. He was failing very quickly and the ER in Red Deer did everything they could but without STARS he probably wouldn’t be here today,” said his mom Melanie on Thursday at the Red Deer STARS LOTTERY launch at Red Deer Airport.

She said he was home for a few days with what appeared to be the flu. Early one morning she was awoken to the sound of him whimpering in his room.

“He was conscious but not responsive. He didn’t know anybody was in the room. You could hear the fear, and see the fear in his eyes.”

He was rushed to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre where staff gave him saline to buy him time, but they did not know what was causing Jayden’s symptoms and the Calgary hospital sent STARS.

“Even though I knew Jayden was in the best possible hands, it was terrifying seeing the team in blue suits come and take our son away,” Melanie said about seeing the STARS team arrive.

She said while driving to Calgary, STARS kept them informed. Jayden had slept through the whole flight and was resting comfortably.

“My husband still has it saved in his phone to remind us where we’ve come from and that he’s okay.”

She said her family is forever indebted to the vital air ambulance service.

“Thank you to all of the STARS supporters. It is people like you that help keep them in the sky and thank you to the crew for all that you’ve done and continue to do.”

STARS air ambulance publicly launched its 25th lottery with 3,034 prizes valued at $4.7 million Thursday. Grand prizes include a dream home in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, and a $500,000 Dream Fund.

It’s the first time a dream home was not built in Red Deer.

Mike Lamacchia, vice-president of operations for Alberta and Saskatchewan with STARS, said it was time to refresh and enhance the lottery and supporters said they preferred cash prizes.

“People love the house, but then they win the house and it’s in a location they don’t want and then they have to sell it. People said why don’t you just make it a dream prize, like half a million dollars, so that’s what we did this year.”

As of Thursday 50 per cent of lottery tickets were sold, as well as 66 per cent of LUCKY STARS 50/50 tickets.

He said the lottery raises about $11 million to help keep STARS running in Alberta. Last year STARS flew over 1,500 missions and 75 were to Red Deer.

“(Red Deer) is the number one referral centre for us in Alberta so it’s a very important community for us to continue to support,” Lamacchia said.

He said STARS can’t do what it does alone.

“We’ve got a lot of EMS partners. We’ve got our hospital partners. We’ve got police and our fire departments, and a lot of colleagues that make this all work.”

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