Sep 20, 2012 - HONOURING THE MEMORY OF THREE YOUNG MEN

Over the September-long weekend, the Novak family hosted a three-day event in honour of Brad Arsenault, Kole Novak and Thaddeus Lake (BKT), three young men whose lives were taken abruptly in a tragic collision involving an alleged drunk driver in late November of last year.

The three-day event featured a skateboarding competition at the Beaumont and District Lions Skatepark, held in Kole’s memory; a soccer tournament in the fields adjacent to the skatepark, held in Brad’s memory; and a mini-music festival held in Thaddeus’ memory. All three days also included a barbeque and silent auction, with all proceeds going to the BKT Memorial Fund.

Zane Novak, Kole’s father and spokesperson for the BKT Memorial Fund, said the event was a success despite the uncooperative weather.

“This event was really just meant to honour the boys’ memory and to pay tribute to the kind of people they were. For us it was more of a ‘Fun-raiser’ than it was a fundraiser because it really just was about the boys,” said Novak.

Sheri Arsenault, mother to Brad, said that for her it was one of the best days she’s had since her son’s death.
“The soccer was fantastic. It was excellent. I just loved it. It was really heartwarming to see all of Bradley’s friends out there playing the sport he loved so much, despite the cold. They really gave it their all and it made me really happy to watch.”

While Novak admitted the event did have its challenges, he said it was a learning experience.
“This is an event we would like to host every year to honour the boys. I think next time we will scale it down to just two days instead of three and not do it on a long-weekend so that hopefully more people can make it out, but it really was an enjoyable experience,” said Novak.

According to Novak, the event raised approximately $12,000 for the BKT Memorial Fund, just shy of the Novak’s initial goal of $15,000. This is a step in the right direction, said Novak, as all the money raised will be put toward building a memorial park in Beaumont for the three boys.

“I have met with town council and we have talked a few times about [building a park] and they are in complete agreement with that,” explained Novak.  Novak said discussions about whether or not to build an entirely new park in the boys’ memory or to use the funds to expand the existing skatepark are ongoing, and those decisions will inevitably be up to town council and administration.

“They are in their planning phase now, so what we are going to do is meet with the town and review the three and five year plans and see where [a park] can fit, and we will start looking at how much we have raised and can contribute to the park.”

Currently Novak said he is attending regular meetings with the Big Hearted Mavericks (BHM) foundation, the organization by which the BKT Memorial Fund is registered, to determine the grand total of all BKT funds raised to date. Final tallies are expected to be in before the end of this month.

Novak said anyone who donates to the BKT Memorial Fund can request tax-receipts through the BHM Foundation, which is registered through the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). “This way all the BKT funds are being held in trust by the BHM and they are secured so that when the time comes we can put those funds toward the park,” said Novak. 

In addition to paying tribute to Brad, Kole and Thaddeus, and raising money for a future memorial park, the BKT event was also the perfect opportunity to raise awareness to the dangers of drinking and driving, an endeavour that Arsenault said is very close to her heart since her son’s death.

Arsenault’s contribution to the September-long weekend’s festivities was presenting a petition to anyone interested. A petition she hopes will help change the current drunk driving laws and penalties.  “The petition is called Families for Justice and to date it has gotten more than 10,000 signatures. We acquired 140 more signatures at the BKT event and I am happy with that number, considering I think the weather kept a lot of people away that weekend,” said Arsenault.

The petition calls for new mandatory minimum sentencing and for the government to redefine the offence of drunk driving as vehicular manslaughter. 


In addition, Arsenault said she hopes the petition will help to speed up the court process for families who have been affected by drunk driving.   “The way the system works now is not good enough and people don’t realize that until they are forced to deal with it.” 

Arsenault said she also received $425 in donations from generous members of the community. Those funds have gone to Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an organization that has been working to lobby the government and change drunk driving laws for many years.

As for the event itself, Novak said it could not have happened if it weren’t for the 50 volunteers who donated both their time and energy to making it a success — rain or shine.

“That isn’t counting the various members of the local fire department who were on scene to help us put up and take down the tent, which was a huge help.

We also got a lot of support from local business both in and outside of Beaumont, who made donations to the silent auction and one couple in particular, Jeff and Dawn Smith,” said Novak. “They were awarded the Chantal Bérubé Memorial volunteer award because they really did help with every aspect of the entire event, from the planning stages to the very end.”

To keep up to date with the BKT Memorial Fund and its future endeavours, find the group on Facebook by searching: In Memoriam of Bradley Arsenault, Kole Novak, and Thaddeus Lake.

To keep up to date on the BKT court case, and many others ongoing across the country, the Arsenault’s have developed a website that they update frequently. The website also documents all the various MADD/SADD events happening across the province and has a special section dedicated to Brad, Kole and Thaddeus where friends and family can share their stories of the boys.


Visit the website at bradkolethad.com. To learn more about Families for Justice, to sign the petition or to simply track its progress visit the groups Facebook page by searching “Families for Justice.”

Source: The Beaumont News

 

Last updated on: 2012-09-28 | Link to this post