Fort Macleod residents can enjoy some high calibre volleyball this weekend while supporting a valuable medical service.
The 11th annual STARS Charity Co-ed Volleyball Tournament is Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 15-17 at F.P. Walshe school.
Twenty-five teams will compete in three divisions in a tournament designed to raise money to fund a mission by STARS air ambulance.
“It’s really good volleyball,” organizer Mike Bourassa said. “On the competitive side it’s college level ball. It’s lots of fun.”
The tournament has 12 teams in the competitive division, six in the intermediate division and seven in the recreational division.
In addition to Fort Macleod squads, teams are coming from Swift Current, Sask., Fernie, Olds, Calgary, Lethbridge, Claresholm, Pincher Creek and Picture Butte.
Bourassa noted that members of an F.P. Walshe school team that played last year have formed three teams entered in the 2013 tournament.
Bourassa said that is a direct result of the sponsorship for a high school team provided year after year by Shane Trotter of Macleod Feed Mill.
“It’s helped us grow,” Bourassa said. “It gives the kids the opportunity to play. They have a good time and come back with their friends when they go to university and college.”
Bourassa said when he was soliciting donations from Fort Macleod businesses he was turned down by a few owners who said they just couldn’t afford to contribute this year.
On a positive note, if the tournament lost two or three of its usual sponsors, it picked up five or six new ones this year.
“Donations are going really well,” Bourassa said. “It’s been very good. I’m hopeful we will be able to achieve our goal.”
The goal is to raise at least $5,400 to sponsor one mission by a STARS helicopter.
The tournament met that goal last year, and organizers later learned the money funded an emergency mission about a month later in Pincher Creek.
The importance of the STARS air ambulance service will be stressed Saturday night during the tournament dinner and dance.
Murray Campbell, who is manager of major gifts for the STARS office in Lethbridge, will be a guest speaker at the dinner.
Players, organizers and supporters will also hear from Kyle Rast from the Crowsnest Pass, who was a patient served by STARS air ambulance.
Bourassa said hearing from someone who has been served directly by STARS is important.
“It has had a real impact on the crowd,” Bourassa said of previous presentations at the tournament dinner. “That’s somebody you can see that the money we have raised has saved.”
The Queens Hotel will host the tournament’s beer gardens again.
Anyone interested in attending the dinner and dance should contact Mike Bourassa at 403-553-2025 or 403-330-3546 by 12 noon Saturday.