Staring straight ahead, Aaron Barclay’s face remained expressionless as he remembered the man who became like a brother to him in the short time they knew each other.
Barclay was just one of the nearly 1,000 people who turned up for the fundraiser and rally Sunday in support of Clint Schoening’s family.
A motorcycle accident the night of May 11 claimed the life of the 34-year-old former Penticton resident who was living in West Kelowna at the time.
“Clint was just someone that everybody liked,” said Barclay as he struggled to contain his emotions. “He loved life, he loved his family and he loved to ride. He would do anything for you, he’d do anything for anybody who needed any kind of help.”
Shortly after noon, Barclay and more than 100 other grim-faced riders formed a long procession as they left the Minute Brake and Muffler shop on Skaha Lake Road, taking Highway 97 to Oliver.
The group then made its way back to Okanagan Falls, this time driving along Eastside Road, stopping briefly at the crash site before resuming the ride along South Main Street and back to the starting point.
At the Minute Muffler location a barbecue was going full tilt, along with 50-50 draws and a large truck was kept busy hauling huge bags of empties brought in by members of the public.
Estimated total of the day’s events, including a silent auction for well over 100 donated items, is expected to be about $20,000.
“Wow, it was an incredible day and a really amazing turnout, this community is really something,” said long-time family friend and co-organizer Marissa Hilton McPherson. “It was a pretty emotional for everyone, family and friends, but it was also a very beautiful day. But I really wasn’t surprised because Clint touched so many lives and the family just needs so much support right now.”
The rally came on the heels of a huge memorial service at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre in celebration of Schoening’s life which was attended by about 600 people.
Among those who attended both events was Schoening’s widow Crystal Sylvester who was a passenger on the motorcycle on the night of the accident.
Although severely injured she has since been released from hospital and is currently staying in Penticton with the couple’s two young sons, aged two and four.
“Crystal did go on the ride in a vehicle and said it was absolutely beautiful and she remembered there was one really cool cloud in the sky it was like a rainbow,” said Hilton McPherson. “She just wanted to post a big thank you to everybody who had come out to help the family and just how important it was to all of them. At dinner afterwards she said she was just blown away by all the donations.”
Contributions included a pair of round trip tickets to anywhere WestJet Airlines flies, RDS Skate Supplies clothing and a metal iron cross sculpture with a picture of Schoening.
The last item was purchased for $800 and donated back to Sylvester.
“People were just so giving on that day,” said the co-organizer. “We made about $1,200 on the 50-50 draw and a number of people returned their winnings. We got about $800 back.”
Hilton McPherson described the memorial service held Thursday at the trade and convention centre as “emotional” but a positive celebration of her friend’s life. Many in attendance spoke about Schoening and how he touched their lives. There was also a photo slide show.
“I think it was important everyone had that opportunity, it was difficult in some ways, but it was a good thing,” she said.