It was the type of warm-hearted event that has become synonymous with Manitobans: more than 300 people turning out on a frigid winter day to raise funds for children fighting cancer.
But a dark cloud has been cast over the charitable ice-fishing event held last winter as justice officials say more than $7,200 raised that day has vanished without going to the intended recipients.
Police have charged the man behind the fundraiser with numerous offences, including fraud and forgery.
Tyrell Cox, 33, appeared briefly in court Wednesday in Winnipeg. The case was adjourned to Oct. 30. None of the allegations has been proven and Cox is presumed innocent.
"Who steals money from kids with cancer?" asked Jim Bais, the treasurer of the Kids Fishing For A Cure event.
His organization, founded in 1996, has put on annual summer events in which children with cancer and their families get a fun-filled day on the river.
Bais told the Free Press he decided to expand his horizons last year when a man named Ty Chartrand approached him with the idea of adding an ice-fishing derby. Chartrand indicated he co-owned Manitoba Outdoors, an online magazine.
Bais said he trusted Chartrand because he'd come out in the summer of 2012 and operated one of the boats that took families on the water.
Chartrand then wrote a profile story on the experience.
The inaugural ice-fishing derby went off without an apparent hitch and was covered in the Selkirk Journal last January.
A total of 300 people participated, including 100 children battling cancer.
"It actually turned out really well. We had a lot of fun, a lot of people showed up," Chartrand told the Journal at the time, explaining how important the money raised would be.
"It's to help those families with kids with cancer and help them to be able to make sure the kid is taken care of to the best of ability with whatever they need," he said.
Bais told the Free Press the arrangement was for Chartrand to give him the cheque once the event was over, but the money never came.
Bais went to the police after he was presented with a deposit slip earlier this year showing the funds had been given to CancerCare Manitoba, yet CancerCare had not received any money.
"They did not receive any funds and we haven't received any funds," he said. Bais learned Ty Chartrand was an alias and the man he had been dealing with was Tyrell Cox.
Court documents show Cox is accused of "trying to utter a forged bank draft summary dated June 7, 2013, worth $7,219."
He spent several days in custody before he was released on bail. He has no criminal record.