More than $360,000 was raised by five Saskatchewan business and community leaders at the fifth annual Rescue on the Prairie fundraising event for STARS, held last week.
On Sept. 5, participants were airlifted by helicopter to a remote location east of Saskatoon. To secure their ‘rescue’ and return to civilization, they needed to raise at least $50,000 each using their mobile phones and personal networks. The public was encouraged to support the participants by donating online.
This year’s brave participants included Janna Dutton, franchisee, Tim Hortons; Tereen Mowrey, account executive, corporate services, Henderson Insurance; Sean Young, assistant general manager, Young’s Equipment Inc.; Brad Hanmer, CEO, Synergy Ag; and Chris Lane, CEO, Canadian Western Agribition.
“Saskatchewan needs STARS,” said participant Tereen Mowrey. “I often say it’s not about ‘if’, it’s about ‘when’ someone that you know is touched or saved by STARS.”
Each individual and their STARS crew partner participated in a series of challenges, including a flight readiness race, simulated medical and aviation scenarios; a fundraising challenge to see who could raise the most money over the phone in forty-five minutes; and a challenge where teams went on a timed scavenger hunt through a difficult wooden maze. Winners of the challenges received sponsored cash prizes to go toward their individual fundraising totals.
“The province really does get behind this initiative,” said participant Brad Hanmer. “That’s what we’re doing here today: raising money and creating advocacy for STARS.”
The opportunity to learn more about STARS’ operations hands-on through the challenges enabled some of the participants to gain a deeper appreciation for the organization and its importance.
“Today has been magnificent … trying to understand what a day in the life of the crew is like,” said participant Janna Dutton in between competitions. “As the donations are coming in today, it makes me a little bit emotional.”
In Saskatchewan, STARS needs to raise 50 per cent of the annual funds required to operate the Regina and Saskatoon bases. Raising $10.5 million annually is achieved through corporate sponsorship, fundraising and community support. Rescue on the Prairie has become one of the organization’s largest one-day fundraisers, raising more than $2.3 million in its five years of existence.
“It takes a village to keep STARS in the air, and this is a gigantic event for us,” said Andrea Robertson, STARS president and CEO. “Thanks for the unbelievable and generous support we’ve received from everybody in Saskatchewan.”
Large donation announced by former Rescue participant
At the conclusion of an exciting day of fundraising and community building, Grant McGrath, former Rescue on the Prairie participant and president of Western Sales, announced a $1 million donation toward STARS’ operations.
“It is our pleasure to support STARS and to contribute to a service that is so critical in serving the people of Saskatchewan, including Western Sales’ employees, customers, and partners,” said Mr. McGrath.
“Western Sales is so thankful for the passion, dedication, and professionalism of the STARS team for carrying out these most vital services in the province, and we want to ensure they are able to do their job for years to come.”
Western Sales is a John Deere equipment dealership that has served six locations and surrounding communities in west central Saskatchewan since 1947. The company has also been the presenting sponsor of Rescue on the Prairie for the last three years.
“It takes a community to save a life, and we’re both honoured and grateful that Western Sales has stepped forward to help us fight for the lives of patients for years to come,” said Ms. Robertson.
“This generous gift reaffirms the commitment that Grant McGrath and the entire Western Sales team have already shown to STARS, and to the safety and well-being of their customers, employees, and residents of the communities they serve.”
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