Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

T.J'S gift

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tjwiebe.jpg I never had the pleasure of meeting T.J. Wiebe - but I've learned a lot about the young man over the past few years from his two amazing parents, Floyd and Karen.They are two of the most honest, dedicated and caring people you can meet - which makes it even more shocking that their son fell victim to drugs, then ultimately violence that cost him his life.T.J. was just 20-years-old when he was lured by a group of drug associates outside the city, injected with a syringe, strangled, stabbed and left to die in a snowbank in January 2003.Three young men have been convicted of his slaying and are in prison, while the alleged ringleader of the plot -- a youth -- was acquitted at trial when the others refused to testify.His tragic case should be an eye-opener for all families - drugs don't discriminate, and neither does the violence that often is associated with the drug trade.Floyd and Karen did everything they could to help their son - and yet he still became a grim statistic.The Wiebe's don't want T.J.'s death to be in vain.And so the couple created the T.J. Wiebe Education and Awareness Fund as a means of keeping his memory alive and steering others away from the dangerous lifestyle that reeled him in.Last year, in an effort to kickstart donations, they launched the first-ever "T.J's Gift - A Gala Evening." By all accounts it was a major success.418t.jpg The family raised $54,000 for the fund, which was turned over to the Louis Riel School Division to provide students access to the fund for peer education and drug awareness projects.This year, all Winnipeg school divisions can tap into the proceeds.Getting funding for a project -- be it a school play, a lecture series or a science project -- comes with a major commitment.Every potential recipient must take a “drug free oath” in which they vow to live a clean lifestyle and lobby others to do the same. The family believes peer education is the most effective way of getting the message through to young people.The second annual "T.J's Gift - A Gala Evening" is set for next Tuesday, May 13 at Canad Inns Polo Park.I'll be there, along with some of my colleagues from the Free Press.Capacity for the Gala is 670 people but there are still tickets available. Singles are $85 (a tax receipt will be issued for a portion) while corporate tables of 10 can be had for $1,100.The evening includes both a live and silent auction, five-course gourmet dinner and dancing to the music of Free Ride. The Wiebe’s will also speak to the crown and video tributes will be aired.Tickets can be had by going to www.tjsgift.com or contacting Floyd Wiebe directly at 229-9633 or by e-mail at floyd@tjsgift.com.Hope to see you there for this very worthy cause.www.mikeoncrime.com

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About Mike McIntyre

Journalist, national radio show host, author, pundit and cruise director ... Mike McIntyre loves to keep busy.

Mike is the justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, where he has worked since 1997. He produces and hosts the weekly talk radio show Crime and Punishment, which runs on the Corus Radio Network in several Canadian cities.

Born and bred in Winnipeg, Mike graduated from River East Collegiate and completed his journalism studies in the Creative Communications program at Red River College.

He and his wife, Chassity, have two children.

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