Calgary girl who died in skiing accident remembered with Abby Award


For David Wunsch, coming back to the ski hill where his nine-year-old daughter died never gets any easier.

“It’s difficult at times, but we get here and we know that Abby and her spirit [are] fully entrenched in the ski hill. It’s a place where I can connect with her and know that she’s around and with us here,” said Wunsch at Nakiska Ski Area on Sunday.

Abby Wunsch was on the U10 Race Club at Nakiska. She loved to ski.

“She was always smiling,” said her teammate, Natalee Tulloch. “She was a fun and happy girl, and when you were sad she would always be there to help cheer you up.”

Nine-year-old girl found unconscious on Nakiska ski hill in critical condition

In December 2015, Abby was skiing with her team on a green run she had done countless times before. But this time, she hit a tree.

“She didn’t lose control,” Wunsch recalled. “There was a young witness who saw her. She wasn’t skiing out of her element. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Right away, there were ski coaches and patrols on scene and were able to help her within minutes. Unfortunately, the injuries were too great.”

David Wunsch and his daughter’s ski team jacket at Nakiska Ski Area.

Global News

Abby’s parents weren’t sure if they could ever return to the mountains again, but it was her little brother who encouraged them.

“Right after it happened, Isaac said to us: ‘We’ll take a couple of weeks off but then we will go back skiing.’ He really led us. I didn’t know at the time if we could ever ski again or even come back to the ski hill but he led us, and for such a young person to help us, we just went with it, and it’s good because the support we’ve had from Nakiska and the ski community, I think it helped us tremendously in our grief,” Wunsch said.

He added that he and his wife, Jessie, made the decision together to continue with Abby’s brother’s ski team.

“The incident was part of the sport, and we understand that. Life sometimes has inherent risks so I don’t think we can go around being bubble-wrapped and stopping living for the risk that something may happen,” Wunsch said.

Alberta Alpine Ski Association mourns death of 9-year-old skier

The Wunsch family has now set up the Abby Award in memory of their daughter. Seventy-eight medals were given out in 2017 to young skiers across Canada who demonstrated Abby’s attributes, such as effort, passion and an ability to have fun.

Parents and coaches call the family an inspiration to their community.

“I admire them because going through such a tragedy and to turn it into such a positive thing is amazing to me,” said Kim Blouin, whose daughter received an Abby Award.

“This award is special because there’s all kinds of other medals for performance, but this is about attitude and work ethic and passion and showing up and being there 100 per cent of the time.”

Thoughts of Abby remain as teammates ski down the run where they lost their friend three years ago.

“I always think of her every time I go down that run,” said Tulloch, also an Abby Award recipient. “I don’t feel sad. I feel happy and grateful that I got to know her.”

Abby’s racing jacket now hangs on the wall at the Nakiska Lodge. Olympic athletes like Brady Leman and Kerrin Lee-Gartner, teammates and first responders who were at the scene of the accident wear the Abby Badge in her memory.

The award now helps all those grieving to find some peace.

“Setting up the award really brought out what Abby was about,” said Wunsch. “It helped us to honour her and helped us in our grief. It helped a lot of other people that were with us in our grief. It helps us remember all the great things about Abby and it helps us be positive for those other athletes out there and not dwell on the fact we don’t see her every day and that we will one day.”

The Wunsch family has set up the Abby Award Foundation to help cover the costs associated with presenting the Abby Award across the country. Funding for the Abby Award Foundation is being  achieved in part by selling Abby Badges.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Source link

قالب وردپرس

In her short life, little Abby inspired countless acts of kindness. Now even strangers are mourning her death


Abby was here, and the signs are everywhere. Pink ribbons are tied around the fence posts south of Schomberg, and in town, they’re on stop signs and telephone poles. At a coffee shop, there is a board where red hearts proclaim in permanent marker scrawl who has a free coffee or muffin coming to them. Just one of the many acts of kindness made in the name of the little girl who became a “binding force,” not just in this town north of Toronto, but everywhere she went. Abby Eveson died last week. She was here for five years and four months.

Abby Eveson was born with a rare congenital heart defect that limited the blood flow to her lungs. She had three open-heart surgeries before she was 2. When she was facing a surgery in 2014, her parents, Becky and Craig, began dropping $5 bills at the hospital, buying lunches for strangers, encouraging others to do the same. “It really helped us get through the hard times, just knowing that you’re helping make someone else smile when they’re having a difficult time,” Becky Eveson said earlier this week. “It just helped.”

Charlie Eveson, 7, in front of a picture of his sister Abby at the Schomberg arena, where his words were read out.
Charlie Eveson, 7, in front of a picture of his sister Abby at the Schomberg arena, where his words were read out.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

It was an exchange with the universe, and it became a movement: We Believe in Abby.

Read more:

Paying it forward for Abby: One family’s quest to create positive energy for their very sick daughter

“I know they truly believed that Abby survived for as long as she did because of that positive energy,” said Kate Glassow, a family friend.

On Thursday, the town arena was the only place big enough to hold the hundreds who came to celebrate her life. At centre ice there were flowers, balloons and pictures of Abby, including a recent school photo where she is leaning on some books in an academic pose. Her mom posted a behind-the-scenes version on Facebook about a month ago. Out of the frame, she is kneeling behind Abby to hold her up — “Picture day at school today! Gotta do what you gotta do xo.”

More than 500 people came to the service. Children sat cross-legged on the walking track. Many of them had done good deeds in Abby’s name, some had been on the receiving end, and others had been inspired by Abby. If Abby can do it, so can I. “It carried on forever,” Glassow said.

The Evesons knew that Abby’s life would never be free of medical appointments, but things had recently stabilized. “Out of all the years of being sick sick sick, it didn’t seem like the time,” Becky said. Abby was in school a few hours every day. She loved going on adventures, playing with her brothers, making people laugh. (One day at school, her teacher told her she needed to change her “grumpy pants.” When her mom picked her up to take her home for a nap, she insisted her pants be changed.)

In the middle of October, she went to a Wiggles concert with her mom. “I’ve never seen her beam more,” Becky said. A few days later, she learned she was going to be a big sister again. Her dad asked what they should name the baby, and Abby suggested “Coochie,” after her beloved soother.

In her short life, little Abby inspired countless acts of kindness | Story Behind the Story
The Trisan Centre hosted the memorial, which included an honour guard from King Emergency Services.
The Trisan Centre hosted the memorial, which included an honour guard from King Emergency Services.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

Abby woke up early, as usual, on Oct. 24. She played in the bath and had a nap. She was sassy when her mom was too slow to return her iPad. And then she went into distress.

Eveson posted a message on the We Believe in Abby Facebook page. She knew it was bad, and asked for prayers and positive thoughts. “That’s always helped us in the past,” she said.

A few hours later, Abby died at the Southlake Regional Health Centre. Not long after, people in town began tying pink ribbons everywhere. Nearby towns did the same.

A jogger running downtown saw the ribbons. She had a sinking feeling.

“She started bawling,” said Glassow. “She was devastated, and again, she doesn’t know the family. Everyone just knows Abby’s story.”

During the service, Rev. Sheilagh Ashworth spoke for the family, including a tribute from 7-year-old Charlie.

Becky Eveson is consoled by her son Charlie, 7, during the service.
Becky Eveson is consoled by her son Charlie, 7, during the service.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

“She had lots of friends, including me because I am her brother,” Ashworth read, as Charlie stood at centre ice in his green sweater, shuffling behind one of the photos. “I miss her so much, and I am sure all of you do too. I will miss her cute little face and I am sure you will too. I will miss seeing her walk in her orange walker, because she would walk very fast. I will miss her cute feet, because they were really cute. I will miss her.”

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini also spoke, calling it the “most difficult” speech of his career.

“If you didn’t know Abby you might ask: how could someone so small make such a profound impact on our community?” he said. “It’s because of the size of Abby’s heart.”

The service closed with a Wiggles recording of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It was the only song that soothed Abby when she was upset, her mom said. “Twinkle, Mom,” she’d say, and Becky would sing.

There were many “heart moms” in the stands who had met on the fourth floor of Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. It can be difficult for friends and family to understand, so they all keep in touch on a Facebook group, offering support.

The stands of Trisan Centre were full as Abby’s service began on Thursday.
The stands of Trisan Centre were full as Abby’s service began on Thursday.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

In 2015, Carol Syme’s daughter Evynn had a heart transplant. It had not gone well, and after Syme posted in the group, she received a gift: a doll for her daughter, who was about to turn 4, and a Starbucks card. It came anonymously in “our last days in hospital.”

The coffee shop in the hospital is open day and night. It is one of the few places parents can go for a break, while still being close to their children. It was a special, thoughtful gift.

“It’s such a simple, tiny little thing,” Syme said. “Because it does get expensive, it does get dreary, or lonely, and it’s just someone random thinking about you, right?”

Even though everybody knew who the gift giver was, Becky “outed herself” after Abby’s death, hoping that someone will continue the tradition, said Melanie McBride, another heart mom at the service. McBride had been to the arena before. Eveson had arranged Christmas parties there for “heart kids” here so they could visit Santa in a controlled environment, and not worry about the germs at the mall.

After the floral arrangements were taken off the ice, there was skating, and a make-your-own-slime room with glitter and confetti. Slime was one of Abby’s favourite things. There was a room with singing and dancing, and an ice cream machine. On the ice, some of the younger children took tentative steps with a parent, their ankles bowed, smiling in disbelief.

This is what the Evesons wanted. A day for families to be together. They want to build an accessible playground in Abby’s memory someday. They believed in Abby, and they still do.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Becky said. “People aren’t just sending condolences. It’s messages of how she touched them, you know? And she’s 5. It’s amazing.”


Source link

قالب وردپرس