Benefit dance set for New Year's Eve
Local families share their stories
The families for this year’s New Year’s Eve Family Benefit Dance have been chosen and plans are moving along to ensure this year’s event is another successful evening of celebration and support.
Tickets are now on sale and organizers are busy gathering donations for the silent auction, says Maggie Cartier with the St. Paul and Community Family Benefit. Organizers are happy to accept donations from businesses and individuals wanting to help out with the event. Donations can be in the form of a silent auction item or monies.
Cartier says she is encouraging people to purchase their tickets soon, as there are only a limited number of tickets available. Families chosen by the benefit must meet certain criteria, she says, adding, there was a fourth family nominated but that family is already receiving support from the community and so, didn’t meet the criteria. Benefit organizers want to spread out the support to all families in need, she says.
Cartier adds that throughout the year, area residents don’t always hear about the tragedies that occur to local families, but it’s important to let these families know there is support out there.
“We’re thinking of them,” says Cartier.
The Family Benefit Dance takes place on Dec. 31 at the SPAN gymnasium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The evening includes a dance with live music, lunch, silent auction, a kids’ play zone and a photographer who will be taking family pictures for a small fee. There will also be glow-in-the-dark party favours handed out.
One hundred per cent of the money raised goes toward the three nominated families, says Cartier.
The past year was a hard one for Shelley Addis and her three sons, Cody, 18, Guillaume, 12 and Benoit, 10.
In March, Addis had to go for major surgery, and then in August, the boys’ dad died tragically. Just a few months later, in late October, Guillaume, a student at Racette School, was injured when a van drove into his Grade 6 classroom, killing one of his classmates and critically injuring two other girls. Guillaume himself received stitches and other injuries, along with the issues that go along with being in a traumatic experience.
Addis says she “was beyond shocked” and didn’t expect to be nominated for the upcoming event. She admits that although the year has been traumatic, she doesn’t look at it as “Why us?” Instead, she feels that there must be other families out there who are more deserving of being nominated.
But she says it is good to know that people are thinking of her family.
“I was so amazed,” she says of the nomination, adding, she had to be reminded that most families don’t ever have to go through what she and her boys experienced in less than 12 months.
Addis says she is now looking to the future and starting fresh. She hopes to one day purchase a house for her family. But for now, she is working on catching up on the expenses that come along with the tragedies the family has experienced, such as funeral expenses.
Addis is looking forward to one day being able to help other families affected by tragedy. One of the requirements of being chosen for the benefit is that you must agree to help with the event in following years, and pay the gesture forward.
“To me, I find that it’s very humbling to know there are people out there who care so much.”
The Cook/Kachan Family
After celebrating two of her children’s birthdays at Whitney Lake on Aug. 5, Georgina Cook helped load her boyfriend’s truck with birthday gifts to take home, while she took the children in a separate vehicle.
Cook dropped off one of the children’s friends before making her way home, and then came across a horrible scene. As she approached the flashing lights from police cars, she realized that the pieces she was seeing scattered across the road made up the family’s boat, and the person laying injured on the ground was her boyfriend, Nathan Kachan.
It is suspected that the boat Kachan was pulling caught the side of the ditch, causing him to lose control of the truck he was driving. The truck hit an embankment and Kachan was ejected from the vehicle.
“When I got to Nathan, he was a mess,” says Cook.
His injuries were severe and required Kachan to be flown by STARS air ambulance to Edmonton for treatment. He had a serious head injury, a fractured eye socket, broken bones in his neck, fractured ribs, a bruised lung, and many other injuries. He stayed in Edmonton for 10 days and just recently finished physiotherapy.
Cook and Kachan have one child together, Ami, who was only three weeks old when the accident occurred. Georgina has four children from a previous marriage, Taylor, 18, Ryan, 16, Keyauna, 9, and Dalyn, 7.
Prior to the accident, Kachan worked for Bearing Oilfield Services, which Cook says was amazing throughout the ordeal. His employer visited him in the hospital and helped fill out the needed paperwork so Kachan could receive disability payments. Kachan was going to attempt to return to work late last week on modified duties, says Cook.
“He’s going to try it and see,” she says, adding, the family just takes one step at a time, each day. She explains that the family moved to the area only a few years ago from Vermilion so Kachan could be closer to work.
The Kachan/Cook family was nominated as one of the families to benefit from this year’s New Year’s Eve fundraiser by one of Cook’s coworkers in Elk Point. She admits she was shocked to hear she had been nominated, and was not aware the event existed.
She says the family plans to use the money to pay bills, since Cook is still on maternity leave and only receiving maternity benefits.
“It’s been a bit stressful,” she says.
The Gadwa Family
Although the details of the day that would change the Gadwa family’s life forever are still not quite clear, the family has started the long road to healing, following a horrific crash that nearly took the life of Gordon Gadwa, a husband and father, on July 5.
Gadwa is unable to recount the events of the day, and relies on what other people have told him about what happened. It is suspected he rear-ended a semi truck somewhere near Marwayne.
“I don’t know how it happened,” he says, adding he isn’t even sure where he was going on the day of the accident. The last day Gadwa remembers is July 2.
Gadwa was airlifted to an Edmonton hospital where he underwent 23 hours worth of surgery. He had numerous broken bones, and the whole left side of his face required reconstructive surgery. He wasn’t allowed to sit up for two and a half months as he recovered in hospital this summer.
On Sept. 23, Gadwa was allowed to come home, which he says felt “awesome.”
He adds that when the accident occurred, it was scary for his family, which includes children Trayden, 4, Tallyn, 6, and Tyson, 11, along with his wife Dayna.
“It was hard on my wife trying to raise three kids and work, and be there for me in the hospital,” says Gadwa, who has been unable to work while he recovers.
Gadwa says he believes it was a lady from the Elk Point Baptist Church, which is the church the Gadwa family attends, that nominated his family for this year’s New Year’s Eve Benefit. He admits he wasn’t aware of the event prior to being nominated, but the family does plan on attending this year’s event.
“It’s nice to know that there’s people out there willing to help us,” he says.
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