Public rallies in support of Wagner
Amazing is how Brianna LaRoy describes the outpouring of generosity she has seen for her friend Kara Wagner, who on Jan.1 lost her family and home in a fire.
Daniel Vollans, 28, and his two sons, Devlin, 4, and Lealen, 3, perished in the fire.
Since then, support has been pouring in for Wagner, Vollans’ 25-year-old spouse and the mother of the two boys.
“As of 10 a.m. Monday, we’ve raised $12,740,” says LaRoy, noting the figure reflects only what’s been collected through the Support Kara Wagner Facebook site (go to the “fundrazr” tab), or cheques sent to her, and does not include what’s been donated to trust accounts set up for Wagner at the TD Bank and the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union.
“I never thought it would get to that. It’s just amazing,” says LaRoy, adding donations have already exceeded the initial goal. “We keep hitting it and raising it.”
Support has been coming in from all over B.C. and Alberta, says LaRoy, noting a family in Toronto made a donation after seeing the story in the news. And a woman in California, she adds, is donating a percentage of all the money she earns this month.
Within hours of the tragedy, LaRoy began working with Nikki Stelmak on fundraising efforts to aid and support Wagner, their longtime friend.
“If we can take a little bit of the weight off their shoulders then it’s certainly worth it,” says LaRoy, adding Wagner’s family have also been overwhelmed by the show of support. “They can’t even fathom the generosity of people in this community and surrounding areas and all over. They’re completely in awe of it.”
Calls of support and donations have also been coming for a benefit auction organized by LaRoy and Stelmak, to be held at 6 p.m. at the Sicamous Legion Friday, Jan. 20. Everyone is welcome to attend.
“We’ve had a number of people from all over B.C. and beyond giving us donations for auction items, so there’s going to be a pretty large amount we’ll bring in from that as well,” says LaRoy, who can be reached at 250-804-5836.
Any business or private donor wishing to contribute items for the auction may also do so on the Facebook page, which is being carefully monitored. Items can also be dropped off in Salmon Arm at the Garage Furniture Company.
Local support has been overwhelming, says LaRoy, noting that Eagle River Secondary grads raised more than $3,000 through a bottle drive.
Twin Anchors, where Vollans worked (and was affectionately known as “Rebar”), is donating to the auction, and staff there have also been raising funds for Wagner. An official statement from Twin Anchors notes, “Dan was a good employee and always worked hard at what he did and was very well-liked by all employees. He will be missed by everyone and our thoughts are with his family as they grieve.”
Wagner’s employer, the Sicamous Tim Hortons, is holding a fundraiser on Thursday, Jan. 12. Coffee and all hot beverages will be available by donation, with all proceeds going to Wagner.
Tamryn Koebel of The Burner Restaurant and Lounge in Malakwa came up with a creative idea to raise funds that she’s hoping will spread far and wide. She’s started a Bar/Restaurant Challenge, challenging other food and beverage outlets to see who can raise the most donations for Kara Wagner. Staff invite their patrons to donate, by adding a donation to their bill, or by donating at either the till at the liquor store or the restaurant.
“We started last night,” she said last Wednesday. “The first table we had through, just about everybody donated 20 dollars. They were from out-of-province.”
She said donations can be as little as $2 – everything helps.
“It’s an easy sell – I wish I could sell burgers this easily. Everybody wants to help Kara.”
All the money raised will be deposited in one of the trust accounts set up at the three credit union locations.
“Moose Mulligans has accepted the challenge – we’re hoping other restaurants will come on board and we’ll have a good race.”
And on Friday, Jan. 13, the Laughopolis clean comedy tour rolls into Parkview Elementary School. All proceeds from this event, hosted by the Sicamous branch of the Shuswap Community Church, will go to Wagner. Tickets are by donation, a $5 minimum per individual and $15 per family.
Sicamous firefighters responded to the fire on Green Road South about 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1 to find the home fully engulfed.
The boys’ mother was working the late shift at the local Tim Hortons at the time of the fire.
Neighbour Trish Munro lives two doors down from the burned-out home. She says at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, she smelled something burning and went out to investigate.
Neither seeing nor smelling anything unusual, she went back inside her home, coming out a moment later and seeing neighbours standing at the end of her driveway.
“We could see smoke pouring out of the trailer and it seemed like within seconds it just blew up and was on fire,” Munro says, noting the wind had picked up a bit, driving the flames toward nearby trees.
The BC Fire Commissioner’s Office and the B.C. Coroners Service are continuing their investigation into the cause of the deadly fire.
Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino said last week that firefighters believe the mobile home was equipped with working smoke detectors – some hard-wired and some portable ones less than six months old. He said the home had three exits and two were completely blocked by fire.
The damage was so extreme, it will be difficult to determine a cause, he said.
“The worst part is not being able to provide definitive answers. I know how fire investigation goes, and it’s very difficult.”
It’s not known when the fire investigators will have completed their reports.
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Carl Vinet said the fire is not considered suspicious.
“We’re satisfied foul play is not a matter of concern.”