Category Archives: Fundraisers

Equine Fundraisers

ABC Race for STARS – Raising Money for Saving Lives!

The ABC Race for STARS fundraising season is in full swing, having started May 1 and running through to October 13.  We have 96 riders signed up. Given that number of riders, we should have a good year! Click here to see the ABC Race for STARS listed in the STARS calendar of events.


I don’t think there is one of us that hasn’t been affected by STARS in one way or another. Our own Deb Dombosky, friend, ABC Rider, and ABC Race for STARS committee member, knows first hand. Her grandson, Tyler Hribank is now one of STARS VIP. 

However I think it is easy to put to the back of our minds just how important fundraising for STARS is.  It is almost an expected service for us now, especially here in Alberta. But unbeknownst to most of us, it doesn’t come cheap. I know we all know it costs money, but do we know just how much? And STARS has also now expanded across western Canada and serves Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well.

Did you know that the money you raise for STARS through the ABC Race for STARS, goes directly to STARS in your own province?

Let’s give you some background info on what it takes to operate a STARS mission:

STARS helicopter on mission

STARS helicopter on mission

  • an average flight costs $5400
  • STARS averages 4 missions per day
  • the BK117 medically equipped helicopters are $5 million each
  • on each mission there are at minimum a??flight nurse, flight paramedic team??and of course a pilot
  • STARS total operating expenses per base is approximately $10 million a year.
  • Patients are never asked to cover the cost of transport in a STARS helicopter. ??

How do they get money to operate?:

  • STARS is a charitable, non-profit organization
  • Funding is met through donations received from individuals, service groups, business and corporations, municipalities, and through collaborative agreements with provincial governments.
  • Approximately 20%of STARS total mission costs is funded by Alberta Health Services
  • The remaining 80% comes from fundraising and community partnerships.

Who do they serve?:

So if an average mission costs $4500, last year ABC Race for STARS riders, raising over $19,000, helped 4 people get the life-saving medical attention they needed. Pretty cool when you look at it like that!

That means this year, with 96 riders signed up for the ABC Race for STARS, if each of us raised a simple $1000 each, we would be able to donate $96,000 to STARS and be helping over 210 people!

That’s incredible!

Together we make a big difference.

Together we make a big difference.





So here’s the call to action…I challenge each of you to raise a minimum of $100, and then build on it if you can, – $500, $1000 or more. As one person it may not seem like much, but together we can make an impact and save lives!

Join the ABC Race for STARS ??or Donate Now!

~Check out the ABC Race for STARS contests running this season!~




Deb and her horse Sassy at Mesa Butte

Deb and her horse Sassy at Mesa Butte

I’m pretty sure that each of us taking part in the Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS has either taken a ride in the STARS helicopter or know someone who has. We all feel the ripple effects when someone is transported via the Air Rescue System, whether through being directly involved in the accident or seeing the red helicopter fly through the sky.

One of our riders, Deb Dombowsky, experienced the ride first-hand last summer when riding in the mountains west of Calgary.  She shares her story…

“It was a beautiful morning in the mountains in my favourite camping spot, Little Elbow Equestrian campsite. The sun was just breaking over the mountains with the promise of a warm day. I saddled up my young horse, Secret, for what I thought was going to be a quiet, short ride down to the river.

We set out just behind the campsite and I was pondering where I would take my brother when he got up there later in the morning. It was maybe a half hour into the ride when we came around a bend in the trail and were met with a black bear.

ABC Race for STARS

ABC Race for STARS

My horse stopped hard and the bear took off into the bush with my dog in pursuit. It happened so fast, when my horse jammed on the brakes I clinched my legs and unfortunately stuck her pretty hard with my spurs.  And then we were off to the races so to speak!

Next thing I know I’m out of the saddle, onto her neck, and then sailing through the air and right into a tree. I lay there on the side of the trail trying to breathe.  When I hit the tree I collapsed my lung and broke 10 ribs (5-11 were flail), broke my collar bone, and fractured my scapula in three places.

At some point I knew I needed to get out to the road if I was to get any help, so off I crawled.  I was very lucky to have a young man come along and he went to the camp attendants to get help.  Jim and his wife were with me right up until I was transported by STARS.  They kept my dog and horse safe until they could be brought back home. I am forever grateful for their help.

I heard the helicopter landing right there on the road and I thought, ‘how many times have I heard and seen STARS in the sky and never dreamed I would be in it one day.’ The crew was so fast and efficient, I truly believed them when they said, ‘you are going to be okay.’  As we made our way to Foothills hospital the voice that came through my headset kept reassuring me and walked me through all they were doing for me.

As I write this I need to include that it was barely a year ago that I watched STARS take my grandson, Tyson Hirbnak. We were camping in the backcountry in Dutch Creek and had a propane explosion which badly injured my grandson and my husband.  You can read about Ty’s story in the January 2014 STARS calendar. You can watch a STARS video featuring Ty here:

STARS has made a huge imprint in the lives of our family. Now when I hear and see STARS in the sky I have a flood of emotions, but mostly a deep gratitude in my heart for them and all they do.

Thank you STARS.

Deb resides in Calgary Alberta.


Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS

Ever heard of geocaching? How about geocaching on horseback?

For the 3rd year in a row, Amazing Backcountry is hosting The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS, a fundraiser for the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) that is now operating throughout all four western Canadian provinces.

Participating in the growing sport of Equine Geocaching, riders tap into their adventurous spirit to hide and find caches in amazing horse-accessible locations.

We want you!

Finding a geocache

Rider Susan Wall finds a geocache.

Riders from across British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are register to participate in the STARS fundraiser. It’s a great way to meet new people, explore new trails, and support a good cause. To date, riders participating in the Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS have raised over $37,000!  In 2013 alone, there were a total of 64 caches placed throughout Western Canada on 37 different trails, spanning a distance of 460km from Fort Assiniboine to Waterton, AB and the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan.

We are setting our sites high for 2014, looking to raise even more money and add even more riding areas in to Amazing Backcountrys new global Trail Guide.

Sound like fun? That’s what it’s all about, while at the same time raising money for the lifesaving organization of STARS.

How does it work?

The race begins on May 1st and ends on October 16th. ??If you’re not already an Amazing Backcountry member, you can easily sign up here.

Membership is completely free and only takes a minute. With your membership you have full access to the Trail Guide, Contests, Rider Forum, Library, Adventures, and our own Horse Riders Network.

ABC Race for STARS Cache Hiding

Riders Linda Fitzpatrick and Sam McPhedran on a cache – hiding mission.

Once a member you can choose to Ride for STARS and then head out for some great riding and exploring. Throughout the Race, find people to sponsor you: simply send them to your page on the Amazing Backcountry website where they can quickly and easily make an online donation. No trudging door-to-door with a pledge sheet! 100% of your sponsors’ donations go directly to STARS. Every donor will receive a tax receipt from STARS.

The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS is a very interactive event; with the exception of heading to the hills to hide and find geocaches, the Race is conducted online. Share your riding adventures, post pictures of your rides, chat with other riders, and view your individual donations and fundraising totals in real time.

Throughout the summer Amazing Backcountry also runs a variety of fun contests for participants. At the completion of the event, prizes are awarded to top fundraising riders at a fun-filled riding event.

This is a race after all, and the big winners are those riders that raise the most money for STARS!

A Friends and Family Activity

ABC Race for STARS - Cache Hide

Rider Mike Harink and his family have hidden caches at some amazing locations!

The Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS – and Amazing Backcountry itself is a great activity for families, friends and riders of all disciplines.

Turn your rides in to social events by inviting friends and family along with you.

Not riding??? You can still be involved.

Choose your favourite horse and rider duo and sponsor them! Or take advantage of advertising opportunities by choosing to sponsor the fundraiser through a monetary contribution. The event is 100% volunteer run and costs, such as banking fees and advertising, are funded by our great event sponsors. Our advertising program for event sponsors includes newsletters with a distribution of over 12,000, Facebook posts, links on our website and, of course, your ad featured on our site.

Related Links:

Amazing Backcountry Race for STARS Information

Contact the Ride organizers, Brenda Murdock and Scott Phillips

STARS website