The community of Sundown helped raise $2500 in support of The Hutterian Emergency Aquatic Response Team, or HEART, which specializes in underwater search and recovery.
Naomi Murray was on hand to receive the donation and she explained why the organization means so much to her and her family.
"On May 29, my dad was out fishing with my mom and unfortunately, he fell off the boat. My mom circled around so many times trying to help but between the cold, the wind, and the waves, he drowned. Local search and rescue, local firefighters, police, and conservation officers all came but they couldn't recover his body. A Sprague firefighter called HEART and they dropped everything to come out and help. Within a few hours of arriving, they were able to locate his body and bring it back to us."
Giving families closure, Murray says, is very important to the people of HEART. "Those hours we didn't know and couldn't find him... it was so awful. We knew my dad was out there but we couldn't find him. The "what if's" creep in like, what if an animal finds him or what if another person finds him... that's your loved one and even though we know my dad is with the Lord, to have his body returned, it starts the closure. So many families do not have that closure of an unrecovered body. To have HEART come out and in a few hours find him, it means just so much to my family."
Through her experience, Murray wanted to give back so she's begun working with the organization as a fundraiser. "I've been talking to a lot of businesses, especially that had dealt with my dad" Murry explains. "I get to explain what HEART is all about. We love doing community events and raising awareness."
The $2,500 from Sundown was raised at the community's gymkhana. It is going toward a very special piece of equipment. "We're raising money for a rescue hovercraft," says Murray. "In early and late winter when the ice is really thin, that's when there's an increased risk of drownings and because of the conditions, it can take a very, very long time for a body to be recovered, but with a rescue hovercraft, they can get right onto the ice, they can get through rapids or even marshland, they can take their equipment out and cut down recovery time from days or weeks to a matter of hours."
Having HEART get more recognition would have meant a lot to her dad and Murry says it's a loving tribute to his memory. "You know, everything I'm doing for HEART is in his memory and I know he's looking down from Heaven and I know he's so proud of me. He loved the Hutterites and I'm sure he's so excited that I get to hang out with them. I'm doing this all for him and to carry on his legacy."
Sundown is about 95 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg.
Written by Dave Anthony