The Transcona community came together not just once, but twice, to help out a local family.
Local resident Brad Little, who worked at Manitoba Hydro and was the owner of Copycat Signs, died on Oct. 24 after sustaining injuries in an automobile accident. No one else was injured in the crash.
The Littles soon began planning a memorial service for him at a meaningful place — the Ed Golding Arena at East End Community Centre, where Little served as the vice-president of sports.
"It was like a second home, a second family," Brad’s widow, Karen, said. "They’re a huge part of the family. They always have meetings after the meetings."
The night before the Oct. 30 service, approximately 200 volunteers came together to stage one of the rinks for the service, doing everything from setting up chairs to cleaning the glass along the boards to making sandwiches. Little’s brother-in-law, Brian Seaton, said volunteers stayed as late as 1 a.m. getting everything ready for the 10 a.m. service.
But approximately an hour later, plans were thrown into disarray as a car crashed into the arena’s ice plant. The 2002 black Chrysler Neon was first spotted by Winnipeg police near Day Street and Regent Avenue. Officers attempted to make a traffic stop, but the driver fled and later crashed into the arena. The unidentified male driver was arrested.
The crash forced a change of venue because the community centre was a crime scene, and not even the food could be salvaged as it was feared to be contaminated.
"There were so many donations — so many people had baked, and so many people were prepping sandwiches," Seaton said.
Seaton contacted Karen shortly after 7 a.m. to inform her of the news, and the family considered holding the service in the community centre parking lot. However, the opportunity came up to use the Canad Inns Club Regent Casino Hotel, and the service was bumped back to 11:30 a.m.
"We re-setup the seats, set up the screens," Seaton said. "From 8:15 to the service, we got that all done, set up, ready to go, within a couple of hours."
When the service ended at approximately 1 p.m., feeding the approximately 800 to 1,000 people in attendance turned out to be no issue. Dal’s Restaurant, Subway, Tim Hortons, L’Arche Tova Café, Salisbury House, East End Meats and Sausage, and Famous Dave’s all brought food, while the local Sobeys noticed a run on fruit and vegetable trays, and donated those after discovering the reason.
Additionally, Murdoch MacKay Collegiate staff and students raised approximately $1,000 in about 20 minutes to support Brad’s son Riley, who attends the school.
There was so much food left over that the Littles were able to donate 110 pounds of it to Winnipeg Harvest, while also contributing to the Main Street Project. As well, leftovers were also sent as thank-you presents to the Health Sciences Centre’s Medical Intensive Care Unit, the Winnipeg Police Service’s District 4 station, and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.
"We were asking people if they wanted to take something with them on the way out the door," Seaton said. "Still, there was way too much, and I’m not saying that in a negative way."
The family noted the Wheeler Funeral Home, East End Community Centre board members, Canad Inns Destination Centre Transcona, Vickar Community Chevrolet, Transcona Ringette Association board members and the East End U12A ringette team, Winnipeg East Railcats minor midget hockey team, Coun. Russ Wyatt, and Transcona Railer Express players also contributed to the service.
The family is also grateful to its fellow family members and friends, as well as the greater community for its support. Seaton said those who attended the funeral also assisted greatly in the takedown and tidying up afterward.
"It’s overwhelming," Little said. "Would I want him back? Yeah. ‘Thanks’ isn’t enough.
"There are too many to thank, and those that know, know."