Lorinda Bye says she couldn’t have predicted how one freak accident would change her life forever.

“I was always that person who thought, oh, it'll never happen to me.”

But she says she’s alive because of STARS Air Ambulance, “Me and my friends went on a camping trip at Cow Lake, and there was a freak windstorm that came up on the last night and a tree fell on our tent, leaving me and my sister trapped underneath it.”

She was left paralyzed by the accident nearly 8 years ago. Now she’s acting as one of the organizations VIPs, or Very Important Patient; volunteering to share her story at Thursday’s Home Lottery grand opening in Red Deer.

“It has just taken me a while to kind of come to terms with what happened, and I knew that I wanted to give back to STARS in any way that I could.”

It was a tough 2016 season for STARS. The organization came close to not selling out their tickets for the first time ever. But they say Albertans stepped up, and are hoping they do the same this year.

STARS Spokesperson Wendy Beauchesne says, “Beyond the lottery we have noticed our donations are down, maybe about 10 percent. That's why this fundraiser is so critical for us, given that it is the biggest and it does run an entire base for us for the year.”

The three story character home in Red Deer is one of the lottery grand prizes, and it only makes up a fraction of the nearly $5-million worth of prizes available.

Flight Paramedic Ron Pasieka says events like the home unveiling in Red Deer really shows the full circle effect the organization, and its VIPs have on a community, “It's not STARS; it's the people in STARS. It’s the drive everybody has to make a difference for that next patient.”

This fundraiser brings in roughly $11 million for the organization each year. Tickets are on sale, and the early bird deadline is March 1.