There has been an outpouring of support for a West Fernie man seriously injured in a workplace incident at an Elk Valley mine last week.
Rick Kennedy suffered a broken arm and head injuries when a tire he was changing exploded in a contractor maintenance shop at Teck Coal’s Greenhills Operations near Elkford about 12:30 p.m. Monday, January 28.
The Maxam Bulk Services employee was flown to Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary in critical condition and doctors continue to monitor him closely.
The Elk Valley community has rallied behind Rick, his wife Kim and their two young sons. The Kennedys have lived in the area since the ’90s and own Fernie Mountain Honey.
In just one week, nearly $15,000 has been raised via a GoFundMe page, while an online silent auction has attracted more than $10,000 in donations from businesses and individuals across the East Kootenay.
A trust fund has also been created and was sitting at $4300 on Monday.
Close friend Marcelin Blanchette said there is no one more deserving of this generosity than Rick.
“He’s the kind of guy who has 10, 15 different projects going on at home,” he said.
“If you’d show up for a dog walk, he would always take time to stop and share.
“… He is a very, very generous guy. He’d always help other people, so it’s not really a big surprise that it (the GoFundMe page) reached $15,000 in a week because this is a testament to Rick’s big heart.”
Rick has spent all his life around machinery, growing up on a farm and working as a mechanic at ski resorts, including Fernie, before certifying and moving into mine contracting.
Blanchette has known Rick for more than 25 years and he, like all Rick’s family and friends, is devastated by the accident.
“It’s nothing to wish upon anybody,” he said. “I’m lost, I’m shocked.”
Bo Choroszewski met Rick while he was working at Fernie Alpine Resort and they have remained friends for the past 15 years.
“Obviously it’s devastating,” he said.
“There’s a lot that’s been happening at the mines recently as far as tragic events and you just hate to hear things happen like that to the people that are close to you, let alone to anybody.
“It’s awful and we’re all very optimistic, and hopeful. Hopefully he recovers quickly and fully.”
Choroszewski set up the trust fund late last week and said donations have been pouring in.
“It says a lot about the Kennedy family but it also says a lot about the community,” he said.
“The outpouring of support has been incredible, not only through these two accounts but the online auction… A lot of businesses and individuals have contributed to that, and it’s been amazing.”
Rachel Dortman and Zenia Weir have been spearheading the silent auction, which is being run via the Rick Kennedy Silent Auction Facebook group. The public group now has close to 800 members.
Dortman is a hobby beekeeper and has been mentored by Rick since meeting him in the spring of 2008.
“He offered to take me out a few times to work on his hives before I decided to get bees for myself and since I’ve been keeping bees… he’s just always been there for me and helped me out,” she said.
Kim has also supported the courses Dortman runs through the Elk Valley Homesteading Facebook group.
“They’ve just been super generous with me and my endeavours, and I think this is the least that we can do to pay them back their generosity,” Dortman said.
She and Weir have been overwhelmed by the level of support from the community, with more than 120 businesses and individuals contributing prizes totalling $10,000.
“I’m absolutely blown away that the people in this community have stepped up like this,” said Dortman.
“We are so fortunate to live in a community where we still have that community spirit and that sense of connection.”
The silent auction will end on February 14 and prizes are still being accepted.
To donate, contact Rachel Dortman at 250 423 8665 or Zenia Weir at 250 425 5534 or by searching “Zenia Mike Weir” on Facebook. To bid, visit Facebook.com/groups/799056620460717.
To make a cash donation, visit Gofundme.com/rick-kennedy or contribute to the trust fund using the following details:
Kim Kennedy Trust Fund
East Kootenay Credit Union
Transit number: 809
Account number: 100001996826
For E-transfers, use the email firstname.lastname@example.org and password “Fernie”. All funds raised will go directly to the Kennedy family.