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Lottery shoots for the STARS

Air-ambulance team to raise own money

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A Eurocopter BK-117 helicopter kicks up dust as it lands behind a $1-million South Pointe home that will be the grand prize of the inaugural STARS lottery.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A Eurocopter BK-117 helicopter kicks up dust as it lands behind a $1-million South Pointe home that will be the grand prize of the inaugural STARS lottery. Photo Store

In the two years since setting up shop in Manitoba, STARS helicopter crews have gone on 525 missions to help people across Manitoba.

Now, the air-ambulance company is on a mission of its own.

On Tuesday, the non-profit organization unveiled the STARS Lottery 2013 in an effort to raise money and awareness across the province. The launch took place at a Winnipeg home worth over $1 million in the city's South Pointe neighbourhood and right on cue, the STARS helicopter landed in the backyard of the posh property -- this year's grand prize.

Each year, STARS -- which stands for Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society -- receives 90 to 95 per cent of its funding from the Manitoba government. With the lottery, the organization is hoping to lessen its dependence on the taxpayer.

'Every dime raised here will go toward the operation. We'll fund fuel, pilots and day-to-day functions' -- Andrea Robertson, president and CEO of STARS

"Every dime raised here will go toward the operation," said Andrea Robertson, president and CEO of STARS. "We'll fund fuel, pilots and day-to-day functions."

But the charitable organization is aware of the financial risks involved in the first annual STARS Lottery.

"It's a financial commitment, and some things come at a cost," said Robertson. "Our organization would have to swallow that money if we didn't make a dime from the lottery."

The second grand prize in the lottery is $200,000, while the third grand prize is a retail package worth $154,000, which includes a pickup truck and large camper trailer.

There are also six other draws for vehicles, more than a dozen trips and over 2,000 other prizes, including electronics, luggage, jewelry and cash.

Tickets are $60 each, two for $100, a set of six for $250 or 12 for $375.

Call 1-855-543-2770 to purchase tickets or visit www.starslotterymanitoba.ca for more information.

Stephen Joss, who works for Manitoba Hydro, was electrocuted 18 months ago in Oakbank. He was singing the praises of STARS on Tuesday.

"I have to thank STARS for the ride, I was having a really bad Monday morning," he said. "But it was amazing to see how quickly they got there."

He hopes the money raised will go toward increased ambulance services or helicopter landing pads outside hospitals.

"The helicopter had to drop me off at the airport first, and then an ambulance took me to the hospital," he said. "There wasn't a place for the helicopter to land, it was kind of backwards."

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 5, 2013 B3

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