Amazing Backcountry race back to aid STARS

Running throughout the summer months, Amazing Backcountry’s Race for STARS is back in action, raising money for STARS Air Ambulance through their equine geocaching.

This year, Amazing Backcountry has extended its reach throughout Alberta, enabling more people to participate in the initiative, which is set to run from June 14 to Sept. 11.

“We’re trying to involve the entire province this year — this way we can try to raise as much money as possible,” said Brenda Murdock, spokesperson for Amazing Backcountry. “We’re also encouraging people to head out and hide their own caches. The more participants that are involved, the better.”

This year’s Race for STARS event comes on the heels of 2012’s inaugural event, which aimed to raise about $5,000 for STARS Air Ambulance. That number was blown out of the water — the race raised more than $19,000.

This year, Murdock said Amazing Backcountry has set a fundraising goal of $30,000.

The global program provides horse enthusiasts with a twist on the tradition geocaching experience. Riders and their horses hit the trails — armed with a GPS receiver, coordinates and trail information — in search of a hidden object. Once the cache is found, riders are encouraged to leave an item behind and sign a logbook.

The initiative’s website provides information on cache locations and trails.

“In addition to supporting STARS, the fun of the event for riders is going out to find these caches,” said Murdock. “But even if you aren’t able to get out to ride, you can still fundraise. It’s not dependent on how often you get out to ride.”

According to STARS Air Ambulance spokesperson Cam Heke, STARS relies on fundraising and donations for about 80 per cent of their funding. The other 20 per cent comes from government funding.

“These contributions go directly towards operation services in Alberta,” said Heke.

“Certainly these community fundraisers are our life line.”

STARS Air Ambulance responds to five emergencies a day in the province of Alberta, said Heke, with two of those calls coming from the Calgary area. Last year, STARS Air Ambulance responded to 13 calls from Cochrane.

To participate in the summer-long, equine-geocaching fundraiser, visit amazingbackcountry.net.

Source: Cochrane Eagle

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