A local couple popped an $8,000 question and got a big-time answer at the Masset Haida Lions’ Christmas Telethon.
Charmaine and Stefan Winter promised to donate $8,000 to the Nov. 26 charity telethon if people in Old Massett and Masset could donate at least $17,000.
By the end of the day — a day that included a 90-minute outage in cell-phone service — the telethon hit a grand total of $26,552.
That’s the second-highest total in 37 years, says Kirt Holland, a Lion and telethon organizer.
“We had a lot of bids going above cost,” he said, adding that people felt extra charitable this year because of Winters’ pledge.
Charmaine and Stefan donated the $8,000 to honour their boy Grady Edward Winter, who died at 22 weeks last March. They also thanked everyone at the northern health centre who helped them at the time.
Two months ago, the Winters won $20,000 in the Chase the Ace lottery — they said the balance of those winnings is now helping cover the cost of their second pregnancy.
Along with the Winters’ donation, Holland said a high point of the telethon was presenting a $12,500 cheque for the large wrestling mats needed to launch the Masset Wrestling Club, which held its first meeting on Monday.
Led by Josh Smith, a new member of the Masset RCMP who has founded wrestling clubs for kids in Fort St. John, Blueberry River First Nation, and Lytton, the club is open to youth from Grades 7 to 12 and will practice at Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay Secondary.
Free-style wrestling is a high school and Olympic sport open to boys and girls, said Smith, adding that it has none of the hitting or chokeholds seen on television’s Ultimate Fighting Championships or the WWE.
That said, Smith noted that many of the top UFC fighters, like Canada’s own Georges St-Pierre, do have freestyle wrestling in their background. Northwest B.C. is also home to Carol Huynh, Canada’s first Olympic gold medalist in women’s wrestling.
“You do not have to be big to excel in wrestling,” said Smith, adding that high school-level wrestlers all compete against people of the same weight and gender.
Holland said as well as the donation to the wrestling club, the Masset Haida Lions will continue to support people who have to pay for off-island medical care — the Lions have long helped people staying at the Easter Seal house in Vancouver.
The Lions also help local sports teams with travel costs, and have a long history of helping projects at the northern health centre.
Holland said he doesn’t know for sure if it was all the calls coming into the telethon that caused Masset’s cell tower to crash in the early evening — a Telus spokesperson could only say the problem was a failed transport card — but the telethon crew dealt with it quickly.
“We shut down the auction for five minutes and I announced to everybody in TV-land that, ‘Hey, you have five minutes to go and find a landline,’” he said, laughing.
“Everybody’s so happy this time of year, and the telethon is normally a pretty big deal.
You probably could have knocked on anybody’s door that was watching it and they would’ve let you into their house to use their phone.”