The long-running STARS and Spurs Gala, an annual fundraiser in Calgary presented by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada (PSAC), has raised more than $11 million over the past 21 years.
Mark Salkeld, president and CEO of PSAC, said he is proud of the industry’s support for the one-of-a-kind event and credits all sectors in oil and gas for working together to help ensure STARS is available to be there for critically ill and injured patients.
“This year’s event was another huge success,” said Salkeld. “Our event helps ensure that STARS’ emergency medical response services stay in the air. Our partnership with STARS has endured two decades, and not a wonder with the continued generosity and support of PSAC members and the industry as a whole.”
The continued backing of individuals, corporations and the energy industry left STARS president and CEO, Andrea Robertson feeling overwhelmed.
“We are humbled by the support we received from PSAC and those who participated in the gala this year,” said Robertson. “Twenty one years and more than $11 million raised, has led to thousands of lives saved. This partnership reflects the commitment our community has to helping others.”
Premier Jim Prentice and wife, Karen were among the special guests in the audience, as was MLA Rick Fraser.
In a speech, Prentice addressed the downturn in the economy, noting that Albertans are “tough” and will weather the storm.
The event, held at the BMO Centre at Stampede Park, was attended by nearly 1,200 guests, who enjoyed dancing to music by local country singer Corb Lund and participated in an entertaining live auction, led by auctioneer Bill Brown and his team from Elevate Auctions.
The live auction was an incredible success and a highlight of the evening, raising $657,000 with 16 different items. The live auction packages ranged from a Primetime Emmy Award experience to drilling services valued at $100,000. One energy company generously spent $268,000 on three different industry packages. Meanwhile, there were 194 items in the silent auction, which raised nearly $100,000. The silent auction saw spirited bidding, too, with the top prize – a Paul McCartney autographed guitar – selling for $4,600.
In addition to representatives from the energy sector, the event was attended by a number of STARS’ volunteers and Very Important Patients. One of those VIPs, Larry Stevens, shared his mission story with guests.
Stevens was injured in November, 2011 when he fell into an auger while working on a farm near Stettler in Central Alberta. He was joined on stage with STARS’ flight paramedic Ron Pasieka and flight nurse Pat Jeffery - the air medical crew on Stevens’ mission.
The trio painted a vivid picture of Stevens’ ordeal and rescue, which ended with him losing his leg due to the extent of the damage. Despite his loss, Stevens said he is grateful every day.
“Before all of this happened, STARS was just a few helicopters that flew around,” Stevens told the audience. “I will admit, I never really donated at all but I am living proof that it really can happen to someone you know. I donate now more than ever and I am there to help out STARS any chance I get.”
The Petroleum Services Association of Canada is the national trade association representing the service, supply and manufacturing sectors within the upstream petroleum industry. PSAC represents a diverse range of nearly 230 member companies, employing more than 70,000 people and contracting almost exclusively to oil and gas exploration and production companies.
Next year’s gala, the 22nd annual, will be held on Jan. 23, 2016.