A Road Trip Down Memory Lane: spending a week in Canada visiting Winnipeg visionary, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, + Resqme Foundation partners
By Laurent Colasse, founder and president of resqme, Inc
On the last days of September as the fall season began, I took a trip to Canada for the first time since 1983. It was an opportune trip that would allow me to see my long-time colleague, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht and later, the Neufeld family, of which resqme has close ties.
An early start on the campaign trail
Our day started promptly at 7:30 a.m. with Dr. Giesbrecht and his lovely wife, Debra, meeting me at my hotel on our way to attend a speech by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.Giesbrecht, an internationally known expert on cold-water survival, submerge vehicle protocols and safety, is campaigning for a seat in the Canadian congress. Giesbrecht’s research has been instrumental to the lifesaving message resqme products promote, and his work offers these 4 points of public advice for occupants of a sinking car:
So, with safety always in mind, we hit the road to attend the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party’s event inside the Bison Transport company warehouse. After a successful and warm speech, the Prime Minister shook hands with those in the crowd and I’m thankful to say I was one of them. I said one word to him in French: “felicitation,” which means congratulations. I later had the honor of taking a picture with the First Lady. Indeed, it was a fortunate day spent with such honorable Canadians highly dedicated to their country’s well-being. As the election date approaches on Oct. 19 in Canada – for those undecided, it’s time to stand and support Dr. Giesbrecht who can make a difference in your community, given his impressive track record of dedication and experience.
West of Winnipeg to Brandon
After a pleasant lunch and farewell to Gordon, I hit the road to visit some friends whose cause is very dear to my heart. Phil and Bev Neufeld are the surviving parents of Ashley Neufeld, who died in 2009, along with two friends when their SUV crashed into a farm pond in Stark County, North Dakota. Ashley was 21 and a student at North Dakota’s Dickinson State University. As I drove the long, flat road crossing a bunch of agricole fields from Winnipeg to the Neufeld’s in Brandon, Canada, I recalled our work with the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund – a cooperative effort with her parents to prevent tragedies like this from happening to other families. Resqme tools emblazoned with the logo of Ashley’s memorial fund have raised more than $50,000 for the Fund’s causes.
I was greeted warmly by the Neufeld’s and their son, Jeff. Ashley was a gifted softball athlete, so we went to see the progress of the new softball field being constructed in Brandon in part through funds from resqme sales imprinted with Ashley’s name. This softball park will be named under Ashley Neufeld in memory of her love for this sport. After a fine dinner at Blu restaurant, whose owner has been particularly supportive of the Neufeld’s cause, we returned to their home where I visited Ashley’s bedroom – everything has remained the same as she left it years ago. Her room was beautifully decorated in green colors with dark blue stripes and it was full of pictures of herself playing softball for Dickinson State University. A black metal chest was sitting on the floor, and on top of it was a wood box with a picture of Ashley with her dog, Easton, engraved with the year she was born and the year she died. Inside the box remain her ashes until the softball field is completed. Phil and Bev’s intentions are to erect a granite memorial at the entry to the field, in which a portion of Ashley’s ashes will rest. I offered to have the resqme foundation participate in this project by funding the cost of the monument.
We chatted for a little while longer and I went to rest and reflect on an emotional day. The next morning, I was treated to Bev’s home-cooked breakfast and we visited Brandon’s sport outlet – this was the store where resqme tool sales in the community started in 2009 and continue today, selling to benefit the Ashley Neufeld Memorial Fund.
Returning to my sweet home in Santa Barbara I’m struck at how this trip has been an amazing experience full of intense emotions and I realize how fortunate I am to meet such wonderful people in a short period of time. They said that I have changed their life since they’ve known me, but equally, they have changed mine. And I am grateful to somehow help make a difference in others’ lives.