Jeff Abbott

Mesachie auction raises more than $30,000

Generosity was the name of the game at the gathering of fire departments

Generosity was the name of the game at the gathering of fire departments from throughout the Cowichan Valley to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy Canada held at the Sky Dome in Mesachie Lake last weekend.

The annual event included a golf tournament, a baseball tournament, a dance and a live auction.

“[It was] another huge success for our group and muscular dystrophy as a whole,” chairman of the Mesachie Lake Group that organizes the event. “Our bottom line [from] the auction itself was just about $34,000, and by the time we finish with the accounting and the rest of the weekend I’m expecting $35,000 to $37,000, which is phenomenal.”

The live auction sees fire departments and community members bid high on items like T-shirts or coffee mugs — things that wouldn’t normally sell for hundreds of dollars. Seeing how much things go for is what makes the event so much fun, said Ferguson. And since it’s all going to charity, no one is too concerned about getting the most bang for their buck. The Honeymoon Bay Fire Department, for example, spent $5,000 on a small cuckoo clock.

Ferguson said attendance this year was lower than normal, but the group understands that everyone is busy and sometimes other commitments get in the way.

“At the end of the day the generosity was still an incredible high,” he said.

Just before the auction began on Saturday, Raymond Wear, deputy fire chief with the Honeymoon Bay Fire Department, was presented with his 35 years of service bars.

“It was really nice. A proud moment,” he said.

His wife and daughter were present for the award. “When I started it was a mill fire department. It was an industrial fire department, strictly for the protection of the properties of Western Forest Industries.”

The Duncan Fire Department won the ball tournament this year in a nail-biter against the Lake Cowichan Fire Department. Thomas Michieli from Duncan was named tournament MVP. The Cowichan Bay Fire Department was awarded most sportsmanlike team.

On Sunday, as the teams and their families and friends sat down for dinner, a structure fire in Mesachie Lake was called in and immediately the Mesachie Lake and Honeymoon Bay departments sprang into action.

“That I think was the biggest unique event through the whole weekend. It really brought reality into what we’re doing there that hey, at the end of the day, we still have an operational responsibility to the community,” said Ferguson.

He said when the siren went off signalling a fire, the rest of the firefighters stepped up to make sure the dinner continued to run smoothly.

“Whether it was running the barbecue, whether it was serving food for our dinner that was in the midst of happening, whatever needed to be done, guys just jumped in. You wouldn’t have even known we were missing two departments at that point in time,” said Ferguson.