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September 23rd, 2015 ~ Vol. 85 No. 37
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Communities across the country show support for Hailey and Terry
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: Facebook / Calgary Herald
Terry Blanchette with daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
While wiping down tables and serving food and drinks to hundreds of bikers at Pure Country Saloon in Frank, Alta. on Saturday, Crowsnest resident Val Slapak explained why she was volunteering as a waitress: she couldn’t stay at home knowing people were offering support to the families of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father Terry Blanchette.

“I’m not doing too good of a job,” admitted Slapak, “But I felt like I needed to do something.”

On Saturday morning, over 200 motorcyclists from across Southern Alberta gathered in Longview, Alta., and rumbled down the Cowboy Trail to the Pass bearing well wishes and support for Hailey, Terry and their families.

The motorcycle convoy arrived at the Pure Country Saloon in Frank, where Blanchette worked as a cook, at about noon, snarling traffic along Highway 3 though passing motorists seemed understanding.

They helped raise over $10,000 to purchase a memorial bench and playground equipment for Blairmore's Lions Park, where Hailey and her dad often played.

They also brought a big pink teddy bear.

Surrounded by family and clutching the bear – a gift from the Bow Valley chapter of the Harley Owners Group – Faith Blanchette, grandmother to Hailey and mother to Terry, said the outpouring of support was too much to take.

“I’m so overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m so grateful for this. It’s coming from all over the world and it’s truly amazing.”

“Terry was such a good father,” she added.

continued below ...
Most of the bikers didn’t know the victims or their families but some of them were deeply affected by the tragedy that has struck this small mountain town.

“I have to tell you, this was the hardest ride I think I’ve ever done,” said Moira Schrader, a rider affiliated with the Bow Valley chapter of the Harley Owners Group. “Just thinking about the family, it’s really sad, it’s heartbreaking but we’re here for them.”

“We want to come together to show there’s still some good in humanity and there’s still good in the world,” she added.

Calgary biker Stu Stone shared these feelings.

“We want to be here because we want to show support to the families,” said Stone, “We all have families as well and we couldn’t imagine that ever happening to them, it’s an awful thing.”

National outpouring of support

Last week, communities from Port Alberni, B.C. to Winnipeg, MB., including Cold Lake, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Calgary, Lethbridge and also Nanaimo, Surrey, Fernie and Sparwood B.C., held vigils to honour the victims and their families.

In Blairmore, Katie Matthews and her fiance Marc Ernst stepped up and organized a balloon launch Friday at the Isabelle Sellon School field in Blairmore to commemorate Terry and Hailey.

As a Blairmore resident and the mother of her own little girl, the tragedy has hit pretty close to home for Matthews.

continued below ...
"Being a mom, it's scary. No little girl ever deserves that; they deserve to live. It’s heartbreaking, we were all praying for her safe return and it never happened,” said Mathews. "At least she's up in heaven with her daddy.”

Matthews said she knew Terry and described him as a "great father," who "did everything for that little girl."

"It's hard to know he's gone," she said.

More than 150 people showed up at the school's soccer field, many of them arriving with blue and pink balloons.

Ernst said it was important that residents support the victims and their families.

"Everybody came together," he said. "I'm proud of the community."

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September 23rd ~ Vol. 85 No. 37
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