Two Calgary men are turning Christmas trees into cash to raise funds for a woman left paralyzed from the chest down after being pushed in front of a CTrain.
The Tree Tossers started two years ago when the City of Calgary stopped its Christmas tree collection program. Kevin Coan and Todd Luker started picking up trees to make money and give to others, supporting a cancer patient’s vacation, the Calgary Food Bank and the Alberta Institute For Wildlife Conservation in the process.
This year’s beneficiary is Rozalia Meichl, the woman pushed off a CTrain platform in November in what police called a random attack. She is now confined to a wheelchair and has months of recovery ahead, with her hospital release expected in February.
Meichl’s tragic story struck a nerve with the men because of how the attack could have happened to anybody.
“I couldn’t imagine having to go through that, so we thought we could reach out to them in a very grassroots way and see how we could help,” Luker said, “because it’s pretty obvious that there’s a lot of challenges that go on with such an incident and managing it shouldn’t be left just to the family.”
“When people are having those kinds of tough times, it’s really important that people reach out, both monetarily and in terms of community spirit,” Coan said.
With a 1,000-tree goal, the Tree Tossers want to help cover some of the unexpected costs associated with the assault, like Meichl’s home modifications.
“Just being able to reach out and feel that positiveness from helping people — that’s what it really boils down to,” Coan said.
Meichl’s daughter Charmaine Newman said her family is grateful for the support.
“When you talk to her about it, you do see the tears well up, so it’s been overwhelming for her, the amount of support that she’s seen.”