GREELY – Six ferocious tornadoes smashed through Ottawa-Gatineau on Fri., Sept 21.
They left in their wake more than 60 homes damaged or destroyed, 261,000 hydro customers without power, and a population in shock.
Less than three weeks later, communities from the Seaway to the city are helping out where, and how they can.
One such couple, Mary-Ann Thompson and Mike Larose of South Mountain, decided they would help victims of the tornado with a fundraiser made up of some of the best local bands in the area.
Larose is the founder of the Bordertowne Boys, a popular band in Eastern Ontario and West Quebec.
When his partner Mary-Ann told him she really wanted to do something to help the tornado victims he was quick to create a plan for a fundraiser.
While Thompson started looking for a suitable venue, sponsors and what the fundraiser would look like, Larose checked in with his music connections to look for help.
Without any hesitation, bands such as Corey M Coons, Eddie and the Stingrays, and Helium signed up to play at the fundraiser.
CTV’s Ottawa’s Graham Richardson said he would be glad to be the master of ceremonies for the evening.
“Such a disaster is so overwhelming, people do not know where to start,” he said.
He appreciated the fundraiser, explaining it tells people that they are not alone as they struggle with the aftermath of the tornados. He believes the community support for the tornado victims speaks to the rural character of urban-rural Ottawa and its tradition of giving.
Thompson got hold of The Country Kitchen and Barts Catering who both agreed to pitch in.
Then she received a call from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 627 in Greely to use their large and well-equipped hall to hold their event free of charge.
Along the way, she talked to Geraldine Fitzsimmons, the manager of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce. Fitzsimmons was able to lend her fundraising skills to the event, bringing in sponsors from Morrisburg to Kemptville to Winchester.
The stage was set.
On Sat., Oct. 6, more than 300 people attended the fundraiser at the Greely Legion.
Organizers raised $3,731.50.
One very special item, donated by Larose, was an acoustic guitar that he asked all the people who played that evening to sign. The guitar was auctioned off for $500.
Thompson said she has always tried to help people when she can. “We were just sitting around talking when I said I wanted to do something to help,” she said. After mentioning the idea to her partner, the planning came together quickly.
“She wanted all funds raised to be handed over to the Red Cross. After getting their permission the planning began.
Larose said the community support has been overwhelming.
Thompson said she was surprised at the reaction she got when she asked the community for help.
“Everything here has been donated, from tickets to the food, and silent auction items.”
For the silent auction more than 50 items were donated.
“I would do it again” she said.