Fire departments around the Lake are more dedicated than ever to supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada, and the national organization recently expressed its gratitude with two recognitions.
At the Biannual Fall Fire Fighter and Muscular Dystrophy Canada Awards & Recognition Banquet last month, awards were given out to fire departments from throughout British Columbia (for various achievements), and twice to a department or departments from the Cowichan Lake district.
The Mesachie Group — which consists of fire departments from Mesachie Lake, Honeymoon Bay, Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Duncan, Cowichan Bay and Ladysmith — received an award for the best multi-department event in the province for its June ball tournament and auction this year.
And the Honeymoon Bay Fire Department received a fundraising award in the $5,000 to $7,000 category, which it shared with the Sechelt Fire Department.
Devon Bailey, manager of revenue development for the B.C./Yukon chapter of Muscular Dystrophy Canada, spoke glowingly about the contributions of the Mesachie Group and the work being done at the Lake.
“The Mesachie Group raised almost $40,000 in 2015/16 and have fundraised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Muscular Dystrophy Canada since the group’s inception in 1985,” she said, adding that the group continues to grow and evolve each year. “The Honeymoon Bay Fire Department received the award for their longstanding support and outstanding fundraising over the past year… [They have] been supporting Muscular Dystrophy Canada since 1986.”
Bailey’s organization has partnered with fire fighters from across the country for over 60 years, and collectively fundraise about $3 million annually. Since last year, the B.C./Yukon region alone raised $675,000.
The biannual event, which was held in Richmond this year, brought together representatives from 43 fire departments, and was part of a larger conference about muscle health and leadership.
Fire fighters had a chance to meet a number of the people with neuromuscular conditions that Muscular Dystrophy Canada supports.
Raymond Wear, Honeymoon Bay Fire Department chief, said getting to meet with people directly impacted by muscular dystrophy was a powerful experience.
“[It was] very informative. I knew about muscular dystrophy already, but to actually sit with them at the conference and listen to their stories…” he said.
Wear said it was a proud moment for him to accept the fundraising award on behalf of his department.
“It was really enjoyable,” he said. “Obviously you don’t do it for the award but the accolade was really nice.”
Every spring his department hosts its Winner-Take-All raffle; the prize is a patio set and barbecue, with all the necessary accessories, plus $50 of meat from Friesen’s.
In Mesachie Lake, fire chief Gary Eve echoed the same sense of satisfaction that Wear described.
“It’s always a very proud moment to be in a small department that’s a member of a well-known group,” he said.
Eve has been attending the biannual event for 15 years, but said he is always learning from the workshops there and he always meets new people.
This year, when he introduced himself to someone new she said, “Oh, Mesachie Lake? I’ve never heard of that.” At which point the person sitting beside him piped up: “Oh you will…”
Eve laughed at the memory.
“It’s kind of cool that we’re recognized for our fundraising efforts across B.C.,” he said.
The Mesachie Group’s ball tournament and auction raised $40,000 this year.