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Tragic anniversary in Castor marked with black-tie gala fundraiser

Funds raised for first responder mental health team-building
Cheryl Rayfield ready for the black-tie gala on Feb. 4. (Photo submitted)

Before moving to Canada, firefighter Stephen Rayfield wanted to make a difference.

As soon as he was able to upon moving to the Halkirk area, he joined the fire department.

Ultimately, his firefighting career led him to volunteer with Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue where he became a valuable team member.

Rayfield served with distinction until the fateful day in 2022 where he was tragically killed while responding to call; yet, thanks to his wife Cheryl and her work to create a new movement, his memory lives on.

On the anniversary of Stephen’s death, the Castor Community Hall was full of people for a black-tie fundraiser for the #9 Make a Difference movement.

Around 200 people attended the dinner, dance and silent auction which raised around $20,000 for Make a Difference.

“It went better than I could have hoped for,” said Cheryl Rayfield.

“”It’s very overwhelming for a small community. The support was just phenomenal.”

Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Dueling Piano Kings based out of Calgary who performed three, one-hour sets.

In one of the intermissions, Cheryl gave a presentation on what she hopes to accomplish with the movement.

According to Cheryl, the stated goal of #9 Make a Difference is “giving power back to people who felt powerless.”

Through the movement, Cheryl hopes to facilitate meetings between the public and first responders who have made an impact in people’s lives.

Teams who are connected with public members who they have helped will receive funds from the movement for a mental health team-building day.

Castor Volunteer Fire Rescue is going to be the first beneficiary of those funds, paid for out of proceeds from the gala’s silent auction.

“His sacrifice continues to make a difference,” said Cheryl, when asked about the event.

“It’s what’s helping me focus on the living, and not just the surviving.”

With the success of the gala, Cheryl says that the next step is to now try and get the movement made a registered charity.

As for future fundraising, Cheryl isn’t sure whether or not the gala will be made an annual event but there will definitely be more fundraising in the future.

Firefighters Lee Bagshaw (left) and Quinton Beaumont (right) get ready to serve up the meat at the gala Feb. 4. (Photo submitted)
All the first responders in attendance at the Feb. 4 #9 Make a Difference gala. (Photo submitted)

Kevin Sabo

About the Author: Kevin Sabo

I’m Kevin Sabo. I’ve been a resident of the Castor area for the last 12 years and counting, first coming out here in my previous career as an EMT.
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