For the past five years, the staff at Van Arbor Homes in Lethbridge have poured their blood, sweat and tears into building a dream home to be donated as one of the grand prizes in the annual STARS Alberta Lottery.
“We have been building their house (STARS) since 2018 and we are very proud of it. It’s a project we love and really give our hearts to,” said Val Lowen, owner of the custom home builder.
Every home Van Arbor builds – except one – is named after a STARS patient.
STARS Lottery dream home has special meaning for Lethbridge homebuilder
The moving tribute came as a meaningful way to honor and commemorate Lowen’s eldest daughter who died as a baby in 1991.
“When this opportunity came up, I started thinking about it and said to my husband, ‘I would really like to name the first house after Jenna and then it would be our memorial to her.'” explained Lowen.
“We named the first-ever Jenna Michelle after our darling little girl.”
Although the family lived on a farm outside of Lethbridge at the time, Lowen admits nothing could have been done to save her daughter, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Launch of the STARS lottery in Alberta
Still, she says she doesn’t lose sight of the importance of having an air ambulance service like STARS.
“Especially when we live in areas like Lethbridge, where we are remote, and we have wonderful, wonderful health care, we have world-class paramedics and people who help us throughout, but we are not just not a big enough center that can handle the major types of trauma that could involve much more extensive medical care,” Lowen said.
“So we rely on these people, they are our bridge to get us from a vital event to a hospital where they can be a vital group of people in urgent care.”
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Funds raised through the lottery of the year, which was launched on Thursday, are estimated at around $11 million. Over 2,500 prizes, worth over $4 million, are up for grabs for anyone who purchases a ticket for as little as $30. Top prizes include dream homes in Edmonton, Calgary and one that Lowen’s built in Lethbridge.
“The role we play is very, very, very small but it is precious to us. And that’s an important piece,” Lowen said. “Similarly, buying a ticket is an important piece.”
The lottery is expected to sell out and if it hits its target, the funds can support one of three Alberta bases for an entire year.
Newer, faster STARS air ambulance moves from Calgary to Edmonton
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