A classic car auction in Red Deer fuelled high emotions last weekend when about $100,000 was raised for two kids who lost their parents in a highway crash.
Brent and Nicole Keryluke were killed May 5 when their motorcycle collided with a truck near Innisfail, Alta. Their two young children, Liam, three, and Arielle, six, are now being cared for by their grandparents, Ben and Marilyn Keryluke, with help from other relatives.
Ben had been semi-retired before he became his grandchildren’s guardian. He now needs to return to full-time work, though he must also spent his days driving the kids to and from school and appointments with specialists in Calgary.
Both kids have hearing impairments and need to wear hearing aids. With the prospect of mounting medical costs, Ben decided to auction off the 1973 Pontiac Parisienne his late son, Brent, had been restoring on the block.
It was a reluctant decision, said Ben, who can still recall the day his son opted to restore a Parisienne instead of a muscle car. “He said he wanted a four-door, so the whole family could ride around in it.”
The Parisienne was auctioned on Saturday. What happened at the sale amazed Lindsay Schwindt, who runs Electric Garage Auctions with her husband. She said she’s never before seen such an outpouring of love from people who didn’t even know the Keryluke family.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” she recalled. “I knew our buyers and sellers would step up to help, but I didn’t expect anything like that.”
The car first sold for $29,000 to Rod McWilliam of Red Deer Motors, who donated it back to the family so more money could be raised.
The Pontiac next sold for $30,000 to Danny Fayad, of Edmonton, who donated it back again.
It was finally sold for a third time to Bob Bevins, of Red Deer’s Bulldog Metals, for $20,000 — and he gave it back to Brent’s kids so they could continue to have this legacy from their dad.
The Schwindts, who also waived their commission and sellers’ fees for the sale, were astounded to see a dozen or so other people at the auction donating cash to the family. “My heart was absolutely full… I still get choked up talking about it,” said Lindsay.
Ben and Marilyn are “way beyond” grateful for all the community support — both at the auction and through an online fundraiser account, which has so far raised $78,000 for the children.
Ben said the money will help him worry less about their future.
As for the Parisienne, “We can’t sell it now!” added the grandfather, with a laugh.
He’s hoping Arielle and Liam will someday take it for a spin.