Staff of The Free Press presented Glenn and Tania Wallman a cheque for over $7

The story behind the Glenn and Tania Wallman benefit

This week's Face of the Valley examines the story behind the Glenn and Tania Wallman benefit dinner, held on Dec. 12.

This week, I want to recognize all the people that pitched in to help us raise $7380 for Glenn and Tania Wallman!

I have known Glenn and Tania for about 10 years, and I remember when Tania lost her son Michael when he was 25. My youngest son, at that time was about the same age, and I recall thinking that there could not be anything worse. That was until, months later she was diagnosed with leukemia.  This she fought through, and I told Tania, “You are one of the strongest ladies I know.”

Fast forward four years, and I was stunned when I heard of Glenn’s illness, and ultimate loss of his leg. It was in early November, Andrea, the publisher of The Free Press, and I had a conversation regarding Christmas, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could really make a difference in someone’s life. At this time, we had no one on our radar, but we knew we wanted to do something.

It was on November 10th that, in a passing conversation with Tania, I could see the stress she was under, and it became clear that this was the family we were meant to help.  Things moved quickly from there.  Before I could even mention anything to Tania and Glenn, I had to determine what was possible. I contacted Bev Mandel at the Legion in Fernie, and asked if the Ladies Auxiliary would be willing to do the cooking if we put on a benefit. As it happened, they were meeting that night, and immediately after the meeting, Bev called and said, “we’re in, and the Legion will donate the hall!”  The next step was to confirm with my colleagues that they were on board. Without hesitation, they all said yes, and Andrea committed the staff resources required.

Now came the tough part, would Tania and Glenn agree to us sharing their story?  After considerable convincing, they reluctantly agreed, bolstered by the knowledge that the Legion would benefit also.

Many steps followed, Char at the Fernie Printing Company did not hesitate when asked to donate and print posters and tickets, Ann at Ann’s Independent Grocer and the United Food and Commercial Workers jumped at the chance to cover the cost of the food.  The Relief Committee did not hesitate when asked to donate their time to play for the event.  It was amazing!

Next, we canvassed the businesses in the valley for donations for the silent auction. So many business owners came forward to offer their support, we were overwhelmed!  The donations started coming in, and tickets were flying out the door. We received phone calls from as far away as Las Vegas inquiring ‘what could they do to help?’

One of the things that struck me was how many people did not know Tania and Glenn. This was odd because with all the tragedy that had struck this couple, I thought everyone would know. It doesn’t work that way. Tania and Glenn are humble people, they are helpers, the first to be there if someone needs them, not the type to talk of themselves.

When this realization struck me, I knew we had made the right choice as to which family to reach out to. The other thing that resonated with me was the magnitude of the generosity from so many people in our valley that also did not know Glenn and Tania.

To all of you who showed your support for the Wallmans, whether you knew them, or not, this column is for you. You are truly amazing, we thank you all, and you are this week’s “face of the valley!”