Pilots have banded together to raise money for one of their own.
An education trust fund for Kaylie Spence, 5, whose father and older brothers were killed in an airplane crash last month, has grown by nearly $40,000 due to the generosity of the Canadian Aerial Applicators Association.
Darren Spence, his sons, Gage and Logan, and their friend, Dawson Pentecost, were killed in a plane crash near Waskada, Man., Feb. 10.
Spence, an experienced aerial applicator pilot, was a member of the association’s board of directors. The group boosted an education fund for Kaylie during a fundraising auction held during its annual convention in Calgary Feb. 21-23.
One of the items auctioned annually is the Legacy Bottle, a large bottle of spirits that isn’t opened but goes from province to province in a friendly competition between provincial organizations.
This year’s proceeds from auctioning the Legacy Bottle went to Spence’s education fund. It was the final item auctioned and sold to a Manitoba consortium for $20,150.
“I knew that we were not going to let the bottle go anyplace but Manitoba, but the support for the fund was overwhelming,” said Steve Kianski, who handled the bidding for the Manitoba group and was a close friend of Spence’s.
The Saskatchewan and Alberta bidding groups later announced that they would donate the money that members had committed to the bidding, which amounted to $9,000 from Saskatchewan and nearly $8,000 from Alberta.
CAAA executive director Jill Lane said the auction was not the end of the fundraising effort.
“We have members who contributed following the auction and some who said they would be donating to the fund when they returned home,” she said.
“We are confident the total amount will be near $40,000.”
Wayne Kauenhofen, auctioneer for the sale, said he has not seen anything like it before.
“This was a highlight for me. In a world that everything is me, me, me, but in a situation that everybody rallies together to help out somebody else, it’s something that I’m not going to forget,” he said.
“There was a lot of money raised. They were very generous, very sincere about it.… Whenever you get that, it’s beautiful.”
The fund will be administered by Deb Spence, Darren’s sister, and is designated for Kaylie’s post-secondary education. Additional contributions to the fund can be made to the Canadian Aerial Applicators Association until March 31.