Toes were tapping to the tunes of the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party violins at the Kenosee Rec Hall on April 11, while Cheryl Dubois watched from her hospital bed in Regina through the modern technology of Facetime.
Approximately 150 people came out the help the Dubois and West families raise funds for the Kipling Emergency Response Team and STARS Air Ambulance.
In an emotional appearance, Cheryl Dubois reiterated her doctors’ opinions that “it was a miracle she survived” the terrible accident north of Carlyle that killed Kenosee Lake’s Marie Krauss, and injured Dubois and her daughter Zoe on March 2.
“It is the job of the living to continue living and to celebrate life,” said Michele Amy, one of the organizers. “While we acknowledge the loss of Marie and the pain it brings to her family, friends and our community when we lose some like that, we can do nothing but offer support and love.
“We can however celebrate the miracle that saved Cheryl and Zoe with gratitude.”
Krauss’s two daughters were in attendance for the benefit. Zoe Dubois wrote a song for her mother. A friend used a phone to take Cheryl Dubois around the room to visit with everybody.
“It was a wonderful community celebration, but in a complex way,” said Amy.
Tami Dovell, president of the Kenosee Lions Club, was happy to help Amy and Ben Dubois with the evening, dubbed Dance of Gratitude. Club 19 from Golf Kenosee provided beef on a bun and salads while volunteers brought desserts for all who attended.
Karrnnel Sawitsky from the Juno Award-winning band the Fretless, led fiddle musicians Donna Turk, Michele Amy, and local musicians Pierre Tinant, Leanne Poirier and Chris Byrne in some rousing tunes, to the delight of dancers, young and young at heart. Zoe and her father Ben took the stage where Zoe sang, Dream a Little Dream for Me, followed by the song she wrote for her mother.
A final tally for the amount of money raised through the Dance of Gratitude hasn’t been announced.
The Kipling Emergency Response Team and STARS were selected to benefit from the event because of their actions the night of the crash. The Kipling Fire Department and the Wawota Fire Department responded quickly to the scene, followed by the emergency medical technicians and the STARS Air Ambulance.
“As soon as the 911 call hit the operators, the newly formed and experimental trauma team in Regina was activated, so had it not been for all those pieces coming together, Cheryl would not have survived,” said Amy. “It was a combination of all those elements working exactly as they needed that allowed her survival to occur.”
The two fire departments are run by volunteer firefighters, Amy said. They’re always fundraising for equipment and resources.
“It’s so important for them to have funds from the communities that they serve, and it’s very important to raise money for the STARS Ambulance Service, since they are underfunded,” said Amy.
Amy pointed out that any time a community experiences a catastrophic event, they don’t always know how to handle the situation. There’s the sorrow for a resident who died, and concern for Cheryl Dubois, but also the relief that Zoe was OK.
“You have one of those situations where emotions are running high and things are difficult.
Dancing is such a big part of music and it’s a wonderful way to express emotions. It’s also a way to start fresh.”
She also noted the Kenosee Lake Kitchen Party, which is the camp offered in Kenosee Lake each summer, waved their appearance fee for the Dance of Gratitude. They received a micro grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board to do some community collaborations, and they decided to collaborate with the Lions Club in the hope that this could become an annual event.
“We’re promoting old-tiime dance and traditional acoustic music, and we thought this was a great place to put our resources.”