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The reason for the season

Weekend before Christmas offers plenty of opportunities to help locals in need

Conversations during the holidays are often riddled with complaints about the commercialization of the season. But this weekend, there are a few opportunities for Whistler residents to get into the Christmas spirit and give back to their fellow locals who are in need of a helping hand, all while having a good time. ‘Tis the season, right?

Tonight, Thursday, Dec. 18, the Whistler-Blackcomb Patrol is holding a benefit for cancer at Merlin’s, with all proceeds from the door, coat check, and a portion of drink and food sales going towards a colleague whose husband is struggling with the disease.

“Because of that, our colleague has been unable to work all summer, and certainly can’t work now, and we want to just try and reduce some of the stress involved with day-to-day expenses and just raise as much money as we can,” explained Richard Wyne, one of the organizers of the event.

Festivities kick off at 7 p.m. with tunes by Trish, with DJ Lon taking over at 10 p.m.

Many local businesses have donated items or services for a live auction and a raffle that will take place throughout the evening, with skis, snowboards, hotel nights, artwork, photography, private dinner cruises, catskiing, and a three-night stay in Tofino among the many items up for grabs.

“People have really stepped up,” Wyne said. “A lot of people have been helped over the years by the patrol when they’ve needed help, and now we need help for one of our colleagues.”

On Monday, Dec. 22, Moe Joe’s will be holding a fundraiser for Dan Holt, who was seriously injured at the annual softball party this past summer, and was left unable to walk. Since the accident, he and his partner have had to temporarily relocate to Vancouver for medical treatment. The well-liked Australian worked for Whistler Blackcomb’s lift operations department, and as a doorman at Moe Joe’s, and recently received his Canadian citizenship. Moe Joe’s held a fundraiser for him this fall, which raised almost $5,000 to help pay bills and cover expenses related to the unexpected move.

“The crazy thing was that it was in October, when no one’s really here. Dan’s a lift maintenance guy for Whistler Blackcomb, and it was lifties and stuff that turned out in droves and weren’t really working at the time, and just handing over as much money as they possibly could,” Mike Brew, a representative for Moe Joe’s, said. “It was pretty cool to see.”

Now, they’re hoping to raise enough money to get Holt the wheelchair he needs.

“He’s a kind, big, generous guy that’s got red hair, so coming up to Christmas, and him needing a wheelchair, we figured we’d name the event ‘Big Red Needs a New Sled,’” Brew said.

They’ve booked Brother Twang, a local three-piece band that plays a mixture of covers and original tunes, while resident DJ Metal will man the decks. Cover for the evening is $10, with all proceeds from the door and coat check, along with other donations, going towards the new $15,000 manual, customized wheelchair that Holt requires to regain mobility. They’re also holding 50/50 draws throughout the evening, and giving away door prizes, which include a one-night stay for two at the Hilton.

“If you know Dan, he’s always joking around, he’s a fun guy, and it’s definitely going to be a fun party, focusing on him getting better and recovering, not looking back at what’s happened, but looking forward,” Brew added.

And last, but certainly not least, the Bands Against Hunger Society is holding their fourth annual two-day Rock For A Cause Fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 21 and Monday, Dec. 22 at Buffalo Bill’s.

The event features performances by DJ Phroh, Animal Nation, The Rising Tide, Ruffian Royal and Redeye Empire on Sunday, and performances by Mixmasterfab, The Whiskey Shivers, The Fall of Summer, and Whole Lotta Led on Monday. Artwork by Dave “Pepe” Petko, Alexai Lopez Villaseca, Gary Peterson and other local artists will be featured throughout the two-day event.

Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door, with all proceeds going towards the Whistler Food Bank, TOV Orphan Centre in Namibia, and Playground Builders.

Community members have stepped up to organize all of these events, and now, they’re hoping that their fellow Whistlerites show up with their wallets in-hand, to help as much as they can.