News / Calgary

STARS lottery dream home opens in Symons Valley

The 25th annual fundraising event offers more than 3,000 prizes, including the Calgary dream home worth $998,000

Liese Bielby, Banff EMS paramedic, Jean-Francois Bussieres, Pat Jeffery, STARS flight nurse and John Doyle, STARS flight paramedic, joined for the launch of the STARS Lottery Dream Home in Calgary on Thursday.

Jennifer Friesen / Calgary Freelance

Liese Bielby, Banff EMS paramedic, Jean-Francois Bussieres, Pat Jeffery, STARS flight nurse and John Doyle, STARS flight paramedic, joined for the launch of the STARS Lottery Dream Home in Calgary on Thursday.

For Jean-Francois Bussieres, the first link of a chain connecting him to STARS Air Ambulance starts with a 9-1-1 phone call.

When his wife called in, she told the operator her husband was a diabetic and she couldn’t get him up – he was breathing, but it was laboured. Emergency Medical Services were dispatched within 30 seconds.

“That’s the start of the chain,” he said. “That’s where STARS starts. It was a long two minutes, but it was only two minutes.”

The call happened just before Bussieres was airlifted from Banff to Calgary by a STARS helicopter in April, 2015. And, on Thursday morning, he played the recording of the emergency call during the launch of the 25th annual STARS lottery dream home.

“When I have the opportunity to speak to the people who helped save me that day, they just say they were doing their jobs,” said Bussieres. “Simply by supporting the lottery and STARS crew and equipment, people who have bought tickets in the past and supported the lottery have paid a fortune to me, and I’m glad we can pay it for others.”

One of the grand prizes for the 2017 STARS Lottery is a Calgary home in Symons Valley, built by Trico Homes, worth $998,000. With multiple cash, vacation and vehicle prizes on top of that, the more than 3,000 prizes have a net-worth of more than $4.7-million.

On average, the STARS bases out of Calgary, Lethbridge and Edmonton go on 1,500 missions per year.

Wendy Beauchesne, vice president of the STARS Foundation, said the annual lottery keeps one out of Alberta’s three STARS bases afloat every year.

“It’s very significant,” she said. “To not have the lottery would mean 500 lives not being impacted and not being touched.”

STARS founder Greg Powell said that he believes the lottery, which raised $12-million last year, connects to the community on a level outside of the prizes.

“I think, in many cases, people buy lottery tickets for the cause and not for the prize,” he said. “Being able to respond in this way, to help the first responders and be a support for the patients and their families, that impact is amazing and substantial.”

And Bussieres couldn’t agree more.

After falling victim to diabetic ketoacidosis, he said he lost 36 hours of life – he was dying.

“Time was of the essence,” he said through tears. “My life depended on everyone who surrounded me, everyone in that chain and every second they made count … I know that without the time-saving grace of STARS, I wouldn’t be here,”

For more information and to buy tickets, go to starslotteryalberta.ca.

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