Home Month and Year December 2016 Donor Dollars add up to Saved Lives

Donor Dollars add up to Saved Lives

Disk 1065, Disk name: "STARS Calgary+Edmonton" Mark Mennie Photo Date Taken: March 2012

With Christmas on the way, our hearts and minds turn to thoughts of giving, and there are no shortage of charitable and non-profit organizations in Edmonton that routinely benefit from the generosity of Capital City residents. Two of the most well-known non-profit organizations in Edmonton are focused on saving lives, and today they give us a look behind the scenes at what happens when we make donations to STARS and the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation.



STARS was founded by Dr. Greg Powell, after he lost a young mother who was being transported from a rural area to Calgary by ground ambulance.

With less than half of Western Canada’s population living in major urban centres, STARS has become a critical link between accident victims and rapid access to care services. There is a direct correlation between the time the patient receives treatment and their recovery; and the economic benefits provided by helicopter ambulance missions wind up outweighing the costs by an astounding 6-1.

“Last year, STARS flew 1,814 missions in Alberta alone. That’s nearly five missions per day from our three bases in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie,” points out spokesperson Kady Hobbins. “By supporting STARS, you are helping us continue to provide time, hope and life-saving transport on what is often the worst day of someone’s life. The generosity of our donors has funded everything from operational mission costs to radio infrastructure improvements, high fidelity mannequin simulators for medical crew training, new ventilators, ultrasound technology, and more.”

Hobbins notes that even with the current economic climate, Albertans are still very willing to give. “Like all non-profit organizations, STARS is feeling the effects of the economic downturn in Alberta. That said, with the help of very generous Albertans, we were able to sell out our STARS lottery this spring for the 23rd year in a row! We continue to be grateful for the unwavering support of our donors and take every measure to properly steward donor dollars.”

In addition to providing easy access to donate online at stars.ca, the organization hosts several major fundraisers throughout the year, including the upcoming 23rd annual Petroleum Services Association of Canada STARS and Spurs Gala, which will be held on January 21, 2017, in Calgary. There will also be a unique purse and jewelry auction fundraiser called A Pursenal Mission, which is coming up in Edmonton on May 7, 2017. Additional information can be found on the STARS website.

“Thank you for your generosity and unwavering commitment to our life-saving mission. Because of you, we have flown more than 33,000 missions since 1985 and can continue to be there for the next patient who needs us,” Hobbins says to donors past, present and future.

The University of Alberta Hospital Foundation

Robert Bessette, president, Bessette Wealth Management, chair, University Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees, was happy to inform Business in Edmonton readers on why donating to the Foundation is so important.

“The University of Alberta Hospital site – which includes the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic – is integral to the health of Albertans, and the world class care it provides would not be possible without community support,” says Bessette.

“The University of Alberta Hospital serves Albertans from Red Deer north, as well as parts of Northern British Columbia and Saskatchewan, and the Northern Territories. As Northern Alberta’s only Level 1 trauma centre, the hospital provides specialized care that millions of patients cannot find anywhere else.

“In spite of the challenges of serving a geographic area the size of Western Europe – or perhaps because of the innovation such a challenge inspires – the University of Alberta Hospital has achieved a world-class reputation for specialized care. Our hospital is the top academic medical centre in Western Canada, and one of the busiest hospitals in Canada. It has established centres of excellence in cardiac care, brain care, and trauma services, and was recently named the best transplant centre in Canada.

“This reputation would not be possible without community support.

“The University Hospital Foundation has contributed, in full or in large part, to every major capital and technological investment at this hospital, and are often the full funders of advanced medical technology and equipment.

“For example, the Foundation raised $68 million to help build and equip the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. One in four dollars that built the Institute came from the community, and that generosity has not stopped. In the last four years, the foundation funded Canada’s first purpose-built hybrid OR, expanded the CVICU and funded the ground-breaking Servier virtual 3D heart.

“Most recently, through our brain centre campaign, we have raised $17.5 million to build Western Canada’s first gamma knife and 3T MRI centre; and in November, the Foundation will bring Canada’s first stroke ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital. This made-for-Alberta vehicle will be the first stroke ambulance in the world to care for patients beyond a major urban centre.”

The Foundation is grateful to its donors, even though everyone is feeling the pinch of the economy.

“Although Alberta’s depressed economy has made fundraising more challenging, the University Hospital Foundation has maintained the support of our donors and supporters – people who believe in our mission, and continue to give as they are able,” continues Bessette.

“I think of our Festival of Trees sponsors, companies like Landmark, Jatec, Creekwood and CCI Thermal, who continue to support the Festival year after year. We are so grateful for their support, and the thousands of donors who continue to give to the Foundation.

The Festival of Trees is the Foundation’s most popular fundraiser, and one that is hotly anticipated in Edmonton each holiday season.

“Now in its 32nd year, the University Hospital Foundation’s Festival of Trees is firmly established as Edmonton’s signature kick-off to the holiday season and the flagship fundraising, and friend-raising, event for the University Hospital Foundation,” smiles Bessette. “Funds raised at the Festival of Trees (over $18.5 million to date) have impacted every area of care at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic.”

The Foundation is happy to support initiatives outside of its care centres, too.

“As well as supporting patient care, the University Hospital Foundation raises funds to support innovation and research that has a direct and tangible impact on patients at the University of Alberta Hospital. Foundation donors have contributed $15.8 million towards the creation of new knowledge since 2004.

“A recent example of this is Dr. Ian Paterson’s breakthrough discovery in preventing heart damage in breast cancer patients. This donor-supported research will lower the rates of heart weakening, and will in some cases obliterate the heart failure common in cancer patients.”

Bessette thanks donors on behalf of the Foundation, “This loyal, generous giving is a reflection of the Foundation’s commitment to sound financial practices, and to stewarding every dollar with care and integrity. As a point of context, the University Hospital Foundation is a philanthropic leader, having raised more than $150 million in the last 10 years to support patient care, advanced technology and clinical research. We have been included among the most efficient and high performing healthcare philanthropies in North America by the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy.”

Every Dollar Counts

Chances are, you’ve bought an event ticket, a pin, a cookie, or handed over a $20 bill in support of charitable and non-profit organizations in Edmonton. Each cent you generously gave has come back a thousandfold in the form of improved products and services that save lives, support Albertans and create stronger, healthier, happier communities.

Thank you for giving.