By Kyle Barnhill
The Beechville Lakeside Timberlea community gathered together Saturday for an auction that raised more than $20,000 in memory of a young car crash victim.
Five-year-old Owen Sperry died on January 23 when the car he was traveling in collided with an oncoming truck. Since then, his community has been raising money towards a trust fund in honour of his memory.
Leading the project are Rebecca Mitton and Owen’s cousin, Adam Allen.
“The community was starting to talk about wanting to get together to organize some sort of event,” said Allen.
Mitton had previously worked for a charity benefiting Raymond Taavel, a gay rights activist who was beaten to death last April, said Allen.
“I had done a fundraiser for [Mr. Taavel] and I raised a couple thousand dollars; definitely not to the scale of what this has ended up being, but I offered to organize an event for Owen Sperry, not knowing about Adam, and then Adam saw my message and came over to my house.”
The auction was held at BLT Elementary in Timberlea, where Owen attended school.
In addition to the auction, the school also held a bake sale and a book sale. Outside was a small barbecue stand, with food coming courtesy of Atlantic Superstore.
The children at the event had their face painted, sculpted balloons and played with a table full of Lego.
Items donated for the auction included two hockey sticks signed by the New York Islanders, a Brad Marchand hockey jersey, framed Bobby Orr memorabilia, paintings, shampoo baskets, hotel vouchers, restaurant gift cards and possibly the most interesting item, a live gecko.
An act of community
Allen said that if not for Mitton, he would have just been “blowing smoke.”
But Mitton said a lot of the credit goes to the community.
“It started with the people who had heard about the accident,” she said. “As soon as there was a Facebook page to put the information out there and Indiegogo group funding campaign, it just went crazy. Everyone wanted to participate.
“I didn’t even have the idea to have face paint, or balloon artists. That was Casey Face Painting that came together and offered that, and a crafts table, and then people just wanted to give baked goods, so that became the bake sale and the auction, it just exploded with all these offers. The only thing I’m doing is taking the phone calls and taking the items and keeping it organized.”
Rebecca Mitton and Adam Allen explain just how involved the community was in this event.
Listen to Rebecca Mitton and Adam Allen describe what the community contributed.
The community has been fuelling the Owen Sperry trust long before the auction. The Indiegogo group brought in almost $9,300 and the donations brought in by Rebecca Mitton’s buttons totaled around $2,300.
“There’s certain people around here that have brought multiple hundreds of dollars worth of donations in actual physical goods and they’ve gotten raw checks for $500,” said Allen. “I can think of one person that would have brought close to $1,000 alone.
“It’s brought the community closer together, and that’s a humungous feeling to say the least.”
Among the attendees was Liberal candidate Iain Rankin, who says he came to support the community he grew up in.
“I think it boasts really what Beechville Lakeside Timberlea is all about and we’re all about community and coming together and showing the moral support that is here.” he said. “It goes beyond just the sheer dollars made in the fundraiser.”
Michael Walker, a friend of the Sperry family said that the turnout is an example of the love that the community has towards the Sperry’s.
“I think it is a true testament for a little boy who wasn’t with us for very long,” he said. “His spirit is certainly going to live on and the crowd out there shows how much of an impact he’s had on the community; not only the community but outside the community as well, families, friends, people that he didn’t even know.”
“We’ll never forget,” said Walker. “He was an unforgettable little boy and I think that something like this, whatever the outcome is, is going to let his name live on for years to come so people will always know who Owen Sperry was.”