An incredibly moving moment happened at a Red Deer auction this weekend. About $100,000 was raised for two young Red Deer children whose parents died in a motorcycle crash four months ago.
Brent and Nicole Keryluke were killed on May 5 after the motorcycle they were driving collided with a truck near Innisfail. They were 35 and 34 years old.
Their two young children, three-year-old Liam and six-year-old Arielle, are being cared for by grandparents with help from other members of the family.
“They get up in the morning and both of them are smiling and laughing,” Brent’s father Ben told Global News on Monday.
“When you start out happy in the morning, it helps out a lot.”
On the weekend, Ben and his wife Marilyn took a 1973 Pontiac Parisienne their son had been working on to Electric Garage Auctions to sell. The family didn’t want to part with the vehicle but as Ben explained, didn’t really have a choice. Both Liam and Arielle have hearing impairments, which means some additional medical costs now and in the future.
The family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Friends, family, even strangers have donated money through a GoFundMe page for the kids’ futures and then, what happened at EG Auctions on Saturday afternoon, floored them.
“They basically stopped the auction, let everybody know what was happening, where the money was going to go, and then we were shocked what happened after that,” Ben Keryluke told Global News on Monday.
“The car was sold for $29,000 and then was donated back. Then it was sold for $30,000 and donated back. Then it went for $20,000 and donated back again.”
The special auction for Brent’s classic car lasted about 10 minutes and was captured on video. The crowd can be heard whistling and clapping throughout. Other people pledged individual donations to add to the total.
“People were overwhelmed with just the generosity of people of central Alberta and the support that this family has,” explained Lyndsay Payne, co-owner of EG Auctions.
“It was incredible. People were cheering, I was crying. Our auctioneer Rod had a hard time getting through it because he was crying. He was emotional.
“It was unreal. I’ve never been a part of anything like that before in my life,” Payne said.
The first winning bid was Rod McWilliams from Red Deer Motors, then Danny Fayad from Edmonton won the second round and Bob Bevins from Bulldog Metals won the third round, before giving the car back to the Keryluke family.
“He didn’t want to be recognized for it,” Payne recalled. “He just went up to Ben personally after the auction and said, ‘You know what? I want your family to have that car so I’m giving it back to you.’
“When our auctioneer Rod announced that, the place just went wild. There was a standing ovation, people were cheering, whistling. It was wonderful.”
Brent bought the car hoping to pass it on to his children when they were older. For Bevins, that made the decision a simple one.
“It had way more sentimental value to that family than me owning another classic car, so I thought maybe someday, that young man will be able to drive his father’s car.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the place, Payne said.
“It was wonderful… My heart was very full at the end of that.”
It was incredibly moving for the Keryluke family as well.
“It’s been just incredible to see the generosity of people to help a family to be able to raise the children,” Ben said.
“How do you thank people for something so huge?”