Rescued hiker raises $33K for Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue

Rescued hiker raises $33K for Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue
Bob Wells/Facebook
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells emceed the fundraising event for Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue.

One month after he was rescued by Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue, a hiker has now raised over $33,000 for the organization.

Thierry Vrain, 77, went missing on Aug. 14, then was found by Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue (CVGSAR) the next day on Aug. 15.

Following his rescue, he aimed to raise $5,000 for CVGSAR as a way to say thanks. He held the fundraiser on Sept. 5, and quickly surpassed his goal.

Vrain had initially planned to match his original goal in fundraising, then when the outpouring of support came in, chose to match $10,000 instead, bringing the total amount raised and matched to over $33,000.

“These people saved my life; maybe one day they will save yours,” Vrain said. “Raising funds for them, raising awareness of their work, seems like the least we could do to say thank you.”

Innisfree Farm & Botanic Garden hosted the Sept. 5 fundraiser, co-organized by Vrain and Chanchal Cabrera.

Paul Berry, operation manager of Comox Valley Ground Search & Rescue says the members were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.

“The staff at Innisfree Farm & Botanic Garden outdid themselves with their well-organized, carefully choreographed fundraiser,” Berry said. “CVGSAR members were overwhelmed with the generosity and unique warmth of those who had gathered at Innisfree to express their deep caring for Thierry and appreciation for the search and rescue effort.”

Cabrera says the support shown at the fundraiser highlights how well-respected CVGSAR is in the community.

“This really speaks to the power of community and how important Search and Rescue is in the Comox Valley,” Cabrera said. “These people are unsung heroes, volunteers who risk their own safety to help others, and they are clearly appreciated by many.”

However, the need for funds has not ended for CVGSAR. At the end of 2023, the organization’s lease will end, and the group has been informed that the annual lease will increase by 25 per cent upon renewal.

This will increase the annual lease to $88,000.

The group is aiming to raise up to $1.5 million in order to establish a new permanent home and this fundraiser brings them to $600,000 with another $100,000 promised by the Comox Valley Regional District for building costs.

“The special fundraising event was a remarkable testament to the unity of our community,” CVGSAR said in a Facebook post after the event. “The funds raised will significantly aid in fundraising for our new hall, enhancing our team’s capabilities. This is not just about a building, but a reflection of the community’s trust in us.”

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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