Sask. farm show AIMs for the STARS with fundraiser gala

Saskatchewan’s agricultural community has again stepped up.

“We’re humbled and honoured to be able to have the ag industry support and champion this event to make it such a big success,” said Kim Kroll-Goodwin, manager of events for STARS air ambulance in Saskatchewan.

Field of STARS will take place during the Ag in Motion farm show in Langham, Sask., July 17.

The 1,200 seat, casual outdoor gala will feature a steak dinner, dancing and entertainment by award winning country music artist Brett Kissel.

The charity event will also hold a silent and live auction of farming items, which organizers hope will raise $1 million for STARS.

The idea was first suggested by Ben Voss, chief executive officer of Morris Industries and member on STARS’ volunteer board.

He attended a STARS fundraiser in Calgary earlier this winter organized by the oil and gas sector, which raised $1.4 million.

“They’ve been running a fundraiser for 20 years. I liked the model and when I came back to Saskatchewan, I thought we should do the same thing but do it in the ag sector,” he said.

“People in ag are big contributors to charities, and STARS is a particularly special one for farmers because with rural hospitals not having emergency rooms anymore, STARS is the only way that you’re going to get help.”

Voss approached Ag in Motion, which said yes.

“I thought it was a great opportunity, not just for STARS but also for Ag in Motion and Glacier FarmMedia because it’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community that we’re so heavily invested in,” said Rob O’Connor, show director.

About half of the operating budget for STARS in Saskatchewan comes from the provincial government, while the remaining $10.5 million is raised annually by the STARS Foundation through individual, community and corporate donations, fundraisers and the STARS lottery.

“We raise a lot of money through the lottery but in terms of events, this will be one of the biggest we’ve ever done in Saskatchewan, that’s for sure,” said Voss.

Kroll-Goodwin said this is the sixth year of operation for STARS in Saskatchewan, and it has been looking for ways to partner with the ag industry and support fundraising efforts.

She said she was amazed at how quickly the event has been organized since AIM got on board in January, which to date has sold 900 tickets.

“Almost unheard of to be able to pull off a 1,200 person fundraising gala in that short amount of time. It’s come together just incredible,” she said.

“It’s just a perfect partnership — rural are our people. They are the people we serve. So to be able to do something in partnership is pretty incredible.

“Honestly, to see the way that the ag industry has just taken such ownership of it is pretty humbling.”

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