Don Cook had just finished delivering a care package to a young man at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton last week when he received a phone call that changed his life.
“I believe that you purchased a lottery ticket this year,” said a flight nurse with the STARS air ambulance service.” I’m happy to tell you that you won the Edmonton STARS Dream Home.”
Through tears, Cook proceeded to tell the lottery group his story. In a video posted to Facebook, he is heard saying his family had found out their landlord would be selling the house they live in now, so they were actually looking for a new home.
But it’s when Cook starts talking about his late son that those in the room also started to tear up.
Cook and his wife, Lynn Anderson Cook, tragically lost their son Matt in April 2010, after a battle with cancer.
Matt Cook was a young athlete who played for the Bonnyville Pontiacs and eventually, when cancer took his leg, he represented Canada in sledge hockey.
He was just 22 years old when he died.
The Cooks created the Matt Cook Foundation which provides care packages to young adults going through treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.
“This was, in particular, just a very touching moment,” STARS spokesperson Fatima Khawaja said. “This prize couldn’t have gone to a more deserving family.”
At first, Cook thought the phone call was a prank.
“Once I hung up the phone, I phoned them back just to make sure it was STARS,” he told Global News. “It still hasn’t sunk in.”
Cook said he’s bought a STARS lottery ticket for as long as he can remember. As a member of Edmonton Fire Rescue for 34 years, he said he’s seen firsthand the impact the air ambulance can have.
“STARS has helped many patients and they’ve changed our life,” Cook said.
The Edmonton home is 2,829 square feet. The two-storey home with a double-attached garage has three bedrooms and is located in Griesbach. It’s valued at $973,979.
Don Cook’s ticket was pulled just days after the seven-year anniversary of his son’s passing, something that isn’t lost on his dad.
“I do believe Matt had lots to do with this,” he said.