The overwhelming response to a GoFundMe page set up for the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and its related families has shown just how widespread the desire is in people to help in any way they can.
West Shore resident Rod Hurst is one of nearly 100,000 people who have donated or plan to donate to the fund, which as of late Tuesday was closing in on the $8 million mark.
“I’m like any other Canadian, I was touched and devastated by [news of the crash],” he said. “I’m a parent … that’s a light switch was turned off for all those kids that didn’t make it.”
People have been creative in the ways they’ve raised money for the cause. But Hurst’s donation has a direct hockey connection: last weekend he auctioned off a mounted arena seat from the old Boston Garden, a piece he had planned to display in his soon-to-open collectibles shop, Bear’s Den Trading Post in Coombs.
The auction raised $5,800 and the winning bidder was Rick Spray, who lives just outside Humboldt and has billeted Broncos players in past.
“I told him I’d like to come out and shake his hand,” said Hurst, who is personally delivering the refurbished relic to Spray at the Humboldt arena. “I was rooting for him to win it.”
As a career long-haul mover who’s driven roughly 200 trips across Canada, by his estimation, Hurst is very familiar with the risks of the road.
That experience was just one of the thoughts that went through his mind when he learned about the tragic bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and a transport truck.
“I see stuff all the time in my travels,” he said. “Sometimes I’m the first on the scene, it’s heart-wrenching thing to see … I’ve seen some pretty awful scenes where all I can do is comfort people and hold their hand knowing they’re not going to make it.”
Like many people whose children travel on sports teams, Hurst has felt the vague uneasiness watching his stepchildren head off on bus road trips.
He feels for the families and friends of those lost and injured in the crash but has been impressed by the outpouring of support.
“I wish I could bring those people back, but I can’t,” he said. “But out of a bad thing has come a lot of good situations. People have bonded together.”