As the year came to a close, Fernie’s Western Financial Group recalled their 2014 accomplishments, which included the Shave & Shove fundraiser for local charity Friends for Friends and the Snowflake Tree Fundraiser for the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre.
Behind those accomplishments was branch manager Shannon Willford.
“My utmost desire is to be part of a local community, and coming to Fernie has been a big experience for me because people really do believe in the community spirit here,” Willford said. “Being in a smaller community, the spirit is so much stronger and more prevalent. I love it in Fernie.”
In December, Western Financial released a profile on Willford, highlighting her accomplishments since moving to Fernie at the end of April.
During the Shave & Shove fundraiser, the Fernie Western Financial branch was able to raise $5,000 by eating pie and shaving heads for individuals battling cancer in the community. More recently, Willford and the Fernie branch put together a snowflake fundraiser, where locals made donations to those in need. Fernie’s Western Financial Group was able to raise $1,500 for the Women’s Resource Centre this past holiday season through the snowflake fundraiser.
“We wanted to help families in need, so we went to the Fernie Women’s Resource Centre and they’ve been able to help us,” Willford noted.
But the branch manager, who has been in the insurance industry for 22 years, has had her share of struggles.
The avid ultra-trail running athlete was hospitalized in 2009 with a bilateral pulmonary embolism — blood clots in her lungs.
“I had no idea what had occurred and I had actually still been training with this clot,” said Willford, who has competed in half ironman races, mountain bike endurance races, martial arts competitions, amateur boxing competitions and body building competitions.
Willford, however, didn’t let her diagnosis hold her back.
“For me, I have never looked at things as a negative,” she noted. “There’s always a way to move forward and that’s always been my motto.”
Willford went on to say, “I’m back where I was and even stronger now.”