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Alberta man won STARS Lottery, then a decade later the service saved his life


An Alberta man who once won the grand prize from the STARS Lottery is sharing the story of how the helicopter rescue service saved his life almost a decade later.

Neil Lunn and his wife Mona Cardinal won a $1.3 million home in Calgary from the 2014 STARS Lottery.

"When they phoned to tell me we had won, they asked if I was going to keep buying tickets," Lunn said. "I said 'Yes, because some day I might need you.'"

Then, just a few weeks ago on Jan. 26, Lunn started having heart issues while at his home in Didsbury, Alta.

It was a STARS helicopter that transported him from the town's hospital to a hospital in Calgary, where he would receive further treatment.

On the flight, Lunn was set up with a external pacemaker that would keep him alive if he were to destabilize.

Paramedic Greg Barton says during the flight, Lunn shared with the crew that he had won the dream home nine years earlier.

"He took an interest in supporting our organization years ago and had the good fortune of winning the dream home, and now he’s laying on our stretcher with a critical issue … it was a surreal moment; I was happy to be able to help him," Barton said.

Barton, who has worked as a flight paramedic for more than 20 years, says that full-circle experience was a first for him.

As he was arriving at the hospital in Calgary, Lunn's condition suddenly worsened, making his external pacemaker vital to his survival. 

"As we were transferring him to the hospital bed his heart stopped … and we were able to electrically pace him," Barton explained.

Soon after the helicopter ride, a pacemaker was implanted directly into Lunn's heart.  

Today, safe and back at his home in Didsbury, Lunn says he's feeling great. 

"If it wasn't for STARS, he wouldn't be here," said his wife.


The couple decided not to uproot and move to Calgary after winning the grand prize showhome nine years ago, but continued to buy lottery tickets every year.

 "I'll keep supporting them as long as I'm here," Lunn said. 

Lunn and Cardinal say they have already purchased their tickets for the upcoming lottery.

STARS – the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service – has three bases in Alberta, in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie.

The non-profit launched its annual lottery in 1993, which serves as its largest fundraiser.

Tickets for the 30th anniversary lottery are $30 each, or you can buy four for $75, eight for $125, 20 for $275 or 35 for $400.

Tickets for the Lucky STARS 50/50 are sold separately. Those start at $10 and the winner will take home up to $4.5 million.

To purchase tickets, you can visit or call 1-855-782-7768.

The final day to buy tickets for the main lottery and the 50/50 is March 22.

Both draws will take place on April 5. Top Stories

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