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Tournament raises $10,800 for STARS without playing a game

Even a world-wide pandemic couldn’t stop the 18th annual Fort Macleod STARS Charity Volleyball Tournament.

Organizers will make a $10,800 donation to STARS, despite cancelling the 2020 tournament set for April 3-5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That makes me proud to be a member of this community,” tournament founder Mike Bourassa said.

The $10,800 donation will fund two missions by the STARS air ambulance.

The money comes from donations from businesses, organizations and teams.

When it became clear the tournament, which had 45 teams registered in four divisions, could not proceed due to the pandemic, corporate donors were offered their money back.

All but two told Bourassa and his crew to keep the money — about $8,000 — and give it to STARS.

“Obviously they believe in his tournament and what we’re doing,” Bourassa said.

Teams were given the option of a refund but most wanted to contribute something to the cause, raising another $2,322.

“I was expecting most teams to ask for their money back,” said Bourassa, explaining most players are college and university students whose job prospects are uncertain.

The Fort Macleod Volleyball Club underwrote all expenses that had been incurred and then topped up the fund to $10,800 so Fort Macleod could fund two of the $5,400 missions.

Last year the tournament raised more than $11,400 for STARS.

It also put close to $14,000 into businesses where supplies were bought and community groups that helped out with the tournament, something that won’t happen this year.

“All the businesses and community groups will lose,” Bourassa said. “We hit our goal for STARS but we didn’t hit our goal. To me, making a donation to STARS is an objective but it’s definitely not our only objective.”

“Our main objective is to bring some business to the town.”

Last year tournament organizers gave $1,250 to the rugby teams at F.P. Walshe school for their help setting up and taking down the portable courts at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.

The F.P. Walshe volleyball teams earned $800 for scorekeeping in the tournament.

Organizers are now turning their attention to 2021.

A letter will be sent in December to all the teams that registered for this year’s tournament, giving them the opportunity to register for 2021.

Then registration will be opened to the public. 

Bourassa said while it was a difficult decision to cancel the tournament, it should not hurt the event’s long-term prospects.

“Everybody was so disappointed,” Bourassa said. “They were hoping against hope that we wouldn’t cancel.”

“All of them said they can’t wait for next year. I’m a fairly positive person so I would like to think that things wil be fine.”

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