Alberta man tries to boost STARS donations following life-changing crash

A Lacombe man is hoping to encourage others to donate to an organization that he credits with saving his life.

Jason Lunn was involved in a serious collision on Highway 2 in 2012. The crash left him with a broken neck and a spinal cord injury.

STARS Air Ambulance was dispatched to the scene and transported Lunn to the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“If STARS wasn’t flying, I would not be here today,” said Lunn. “I have the use of my arms, I have limited hand function so I am still classified as a quadriplegic. I do physio twice a week.

“Just because I’m in a chair doesn’t mean that I can’t do things.”

A photo taken at the site of the crash that injured Jason Lunn
A photo taken at the site of the crash that injured Jason Lunn Courtesy: Jason Lunn

Several years after the incident, Lunn reconnected with his flight crew.

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“He’s really become part of the family here at STARS,” said flight paramedic Justin Mazzolini.

“To see him come back and bring his wonderful family… to get to know him and hear how his life has changed, but also hear about what a positive change he’s been to his community… it’s just so rewarding to meet a person like that.”

“It’s so hard to explain the connection that we have with [the flight crew],” Lunn said. “It’s like they have been part of our family forever.”

Jason Lunn poses with the STARS crew
Jason Lunn and his family with the STARS crew Courtesy: Jason Lunn

Lunn began fundraising and speaking about the impact the organization had on his life.

“I’m [alive] today to talk about it, so I’ll do what I can to make awareness for people to support,” Lunn said. “Before the accident, I used to buy the lottery tickets just because I’ve known people who have been flown by STARS. But there are more people that have been touched by STARS than people realize.

“If we don’t have this service, things would be a lot different.”

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Now, Lunn is calling on others to support the STARS Lottery. The organization relies heavily on donations to keep its helicopters in the sky.

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“So many of our funds come from rural Alberta. That’s what keeps us in the sky,” explained Mazzolini. “It is an expensive proposition to fly helicopters out and to ensure it has all the cutting edge equipment and the staff we need.

“The funding is just so key to what we do.”

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READ MORE: Albertan thanks STARS Air Ambulance for saving her life a decade after rural crash

Mazzolini said every Albertan who contributes to the lottery “owns a little bit of that mission,” which means Lunn owns a “lot” of them.

“Through the work he’s done, he’s helped us to be able to respond to so many missions. It motivates you to do your best every day to see someone who has risen above and flourished in the way that he has.”

“Every day is better and better,” Lunn said. “Onward and upward.”

STARS VIP Jason Lunn and daughter Cadence, in her high school grad dress, with flight nurse Lori Coutts, flight paramedic Jusin Mazzolini and pilot Ken Ryniak, photographed on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 Place: Edmonton, Alberta, STARS hangar Photographer: Lyle Aspinall Original: Jason Lunn_R8A5278.JPG
STARS VIP Jason Lunn and daughter Cadence, in her high school grad dress, with flight nurse Lori Coutts, flight paramedic Jusin Mazzolini and pilot Ken Ryniak, photographed on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 Courtesy: Lyle Aspinall

The STARS Lottery Alberta is now in its 26th year.

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The final ticket deadline is March 19.

If the lottery sells out, the foundation will raise $12.4 million, which will go toward Alberta’s three air ambulance bases in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie.

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