Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

TJ's gift

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First off, my apologies for being a bad blogger. I’ve neglected this forum a bit over the past few weeks while playing with the shiny new technological toy that is Twitter.

In case you’ve missed it, I recently joined the 140-character fun and am regularly "Tweeting" from the courthouse about various cases and issues I’m covering. It’s a pretty cool tool, which allows you to essentially follow along live as stories break, sentences are handed down, verdicts are given, etc. Feel free to follow me at www.twitter.com/mikeoncrime. However, I promise not to become a stranger to the blogosphere.

Now, on to more important business.

I am very proud to be emceeing a very special fundraiser set for next Thursday, May 14 in Winnipeg – and you’re all invited, and encouraged, to attend.

The 3rd annual "T.J.’s Gift – A Gala Evening" is a great event that helps tackle one of the biggest problems we face as a society – the scourge of drugs, especially on our young people.

For those of you not familiar with the background, T.J. was a bright and caring 20-year-old man who had a serious drug problem that ultimately cost him his life. 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 were 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. T.J.’s parents, Floyd and Karen, are wonderful people who 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. Over the past two years, they have raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide students across Manitoba access to the fund for peer education and drug awareness projects.

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.

This year’s "T.J.'s Gift - A Gala Evening" will be held Thursday May 14 at Canad Inns Polo Park. Tickets are still available, with singles going for $85 (a tax receipt will be issued for a portion), family tables of 10 for $850 and corporate tables of 10 for $1,100.

The evening includes a five-course gourmet dinner, silent auction, entertainment by magician Evan Morgan, a musical performance by Mindset and dancing to live music by Free Ride. The Wiebe’s will also speak to the crowd, play a video tribute to their son and introduce us to some of the students who have benefitted directly from the fund.

Tickets can be had by going here 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.

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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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