By David F. Rooney
“Let’s celebrate life — Wahoo!” Master of Ceremonies Brent Strand shouted at Saturday evening’s Memories and Adventures Benefit for Pauline Hunt and the crowd of 250 people who turned out to support her took him at his word.
The party, which featured three bands and a fantastic silent auction, raised thousands of dollars to help Pauline and her husband Simon take their two young children on some amazing future adventures that will build memories the children will cherish when Pauline, who was diagnosed last month with incurable Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, can no longer accompany them. Ideally that won’t be for years to come, but those years will doubtless be difficult ones for the family.
According to the ALS Society of Canada website: “Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease, those living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis — unable to breathe or swallow. Along with ALS, neurodegenerative diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. According to the World Health Organization, neurodegenerative diseases are predicted to surpass cancer as the second leading cause of death in Canada by 2040.
“ALS has no known cure or effective treatment. For every person diagnosed with ALS a person with ALS dies. Approximately 2,500 – 3,000 Canadians currently live with ALS.”
That’s Pauline’s grim reality but no one dwelt on that during the benefit.
This was, to paraphrase the irrepressible Strand an opportunity to celebrate life. People drank, ate and danced all evening. And, of course, they bid on the silent auction items that ranged from infant clothing to artwork, cameras to furniture, hair-care products to ski trips in the backcountry — all of them donated by businesses and individuals touched by Pauline’s plight.
“This has really brought people together as a community,” said Parks Canada designer and photographer Rob Buchanan.
Simon and Pauline were overwhelmed by the public outpouring of love and support.
“This is a tremendous act of generosity,” Simon said during a brief interview. (You can hear the couple’s comments on The Current Video on the front page or by clicking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL9lrTltly8)
Pauline was almost “at a loss for words” but beamed as she thanked everyone who came for their support.
Here are images from the benefit: