Emotional memorial for long-time Penticton Vees fan

Hockey team honours long-time fan Annie Kaminsky with moment of silence before weekend game and doling out hugs to her mom.

Christine Mason receives a hug from Penticton Vees Dante Fabbro Sunday in memory of her daughter Annie  Kaminsky who died Feb. 8. Annie was a huge Vee's fan and was well known for her volunteer work in the community and her love to give out hugs whenever she could.

Christine Mason receives a hug from Penticton Vees Dante Fabbro Sunday in memory of her daughter Annie Kaminsky who died Feb. 8. Annie was a huge Vee's fan and was well known for her volunteer work in the community and her love to give out hugs whenever she could.

Valentine’s Day is a time for hugs and that’s exactly what Christine Mason desperately needed Sunday during a memorial for her daughter Annie Kaminsky.

Among those gathered on the sidewalk in the 500-block of Main Street that morning was the entire Penticton Vees junior hockey team.

One by one, players leaned over to embrace Mason as she sat bundled up against the cold winds in her wheelchair.

Kaminsky, 34, died Feb. 8 at Penticton Regional Hospital from complications of juvenile diabetes which she had been battling for some time.

Kaminsky is remembered by those who knew her as a lover of life, a joyful and gentle soul who couldn’t wait to wrap her arms around everyone she met.

Kaminsky was also a huge Penticton Vees fan.

“Obviously any fan of the Vees is a family member to our team and we just kind of want to make that known around town,” said assistant team captain, Dante Fabbro after hugging Mason, who had a big smile on her face and tears in her eyes. “We’re here to support the family. We’ve lost somebody special and we just kind of want to do as much as we can and show our support.

“I know, coming from the team we’re happy to be here and help out however we can.”

The night before, during the BC Hockey League game at the South Okanagan Events Centre, the team paid a special tribute to Kaminsky with photos of her on the jumbotron and a moment of silence.

Some of the players had planned to see Kaminsky the day she died however they did not make it in time.

“It’s just so nice for them (the Vees) be here, they’re doing this for my daughter,” said Mason. “It’s really amazing just all the people here there’s just no words to say thank you enough. Just bless you for being here with us.

“Annie was a lovely person, she loved to hug everybody, she loved to teach everybody how to be happy, don’t be sad, don’t be upset, just be happy.”

The mom remembered her daughter as someone who loved to be around children, teaching them how to do different things.

“Yes, that was her, Annie was just a lovely person,” said Mason.

Sunday’s service was organized by family friend Sharon Guy who was also still struggling to come to terms with Kaminsky’s passing.

“She was in my life for such a short time, just three years, but she just touched my heart so much,” said Guy. “I wanted to something for her and all I could think of was, Annie the big smile and hugs and that’s why we’re doing this.

“Annie was very near and close to my heart, she was battling juvenile diabetes right from the first day I met her she had an uphill battle with diabetes but you didn’t know it she always had a smile, everyone she saw she hugged.”

So Guy felt Valentine and the hugs just naturally went together.

She added Annie was also a very community-spirited person and despite her illness volunteered wherever she felt her help was needed.

“The last little while she had been very sick and she was in the ICU at the hospital on the kidney machine,” said Guy. “I think as it got near the end she was just tired, she didn’t want any more machines.”

An hour-long service for Kaminsky is planned for 10 a.m. Feb. 20  at Vineyard Community Church followed by interment at Lakeview Cemetery.

A potluck lunch is scheduled for noon at the church.