By Laura Stovel
The rich harmonies of flute, guitar and trombone filled the Saint Francis Church hall Saturday while the drummer kept time. More than 100 people danced, socialized or milled around silent auction items lining the walls. For Sofa Kings drummer Simon Hunt, this wasn’t just any performance. The Home for the Hunts fundraiser dance and silent auction benefits his family and his community.
Simon’s wife, Pauline Hunt, has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a “progressive and debilitating disease that causes paralysis and requires costly patient care in its later stages,” according to the Home for the Hunts website. The project will help the Hunt family add onto their house so that it is wheelchair accessible and meets Pauline’s needs as her health declines. As a Habitat for Humanity project – the first in Revelstoke – the Hunts will have financial and other help in expanding their house and they will pay back any loans so that Habitat for Humanity can help build homes for other families in need in Revelstoke. As one organizer Dana Cloghesy said, “We are going for a legacy here, not just for the Hunts. Maybe we can help others in the community.”
If donations of silent auction items are an indication of the importance of a cause, this project struck a chord with the community. According to Cloghesy, who organized the silent auction, at least 105 businesses, artists and individuals donated the 116 items for auction. “I find our community is very supportive in that way,” she said. With 175 tickets sold to the fundraising event, which also featured Vancouver musicians Simon and Marc Wild and Combine the Victorious, that support is evident.
Habitat for Humanity usually builds houses from scratch but the Hunts needed a wheelchair accessible house right downtown that was big enough for their family of four. As there was little appropriate land downtown they decided to expand and modify their existing house instead. “We needed to stay downtown for the girls:” Emily and Madeline, aged seven and five respectively. “I’m not going to be able to drive them around in the future.”
Cloghesy credits Cindy Pearce with getting Habitat for Humanity on board with the project. “Cindy has a golden tongue. She got this going and she’s been the driving force behind this whole project.”
Now that spring is coming, Pauline can get around town on a recumbent trike and in the future she will use a wheelchair, which is manageable in the downtown area. She said her ALS is “definitely on the slow track and a lot of that is due to the support we have gotten.” The community support greatly reduces the stress in her life and this has positive implications for her health.
The house is not the only challenge that Pauline has taken on. With her characteristic can-do attitude, Pauline, a former BC champion bike racer, has been trying out alpine sit skiing with the help of adaptive skiing organization Live it! Love it! She tried one out at Whistler. “It’s a steep learning curve. You can’t snowplow on a sit ski,” she said.
Here are a few photos from this warm-hearted community event: