Thousands of dollars were raised at a memorial meet and fundraiser in honour of Cailen Vilness, which was hosted at Kelowna’s August Luxury Motorcars on Saturday (July 24).
Hundreds of people passed through the event to pay tribute to Vilness and support his family and friends. Vilness, 23, died when the crane he was helping to dismantle in downtown Kelowna collapsed on July 12, killing four others.
Over $12,000 worth of merchandise was donated, which consisted of 55 items for a silent auction. Within the first hour of the event, $3,000 was raised through sticker and car decal items, which were sold by donation. The stickers all paid tribute to Vilness.
“The community here is unbelievable. I’m blown away,” said Erika Hartman, Vilness’s sister-in-law who helped organize the event.
“I really had no expectations going into this. The community support in Kelowna and even all the way back to Kitimat where Cailen is from has been outstanding.”
Donated items for the silent auction included a signed Kelowna Rockets helmet that belonged to Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, a BBQ acoustic session with Vilness’s second cousin and country star Aaron Pritchett, a sub and amp package, wine donations and more.
In attendance was Vilness’s family and friends, as well as the car that Vilness drove to work every day.
“He got picked on a little bit, working construction and driving a funny little car. But he loved it to pieces,” said Hartman. “Jaydean, Cailen’s fiance, is probably going to keep the car. It’ll be her little token to remember him by.”
There was a message board for guests to leave comments for Vilness and his family, which will be sent to his hometown of Kitimat. All funds raised from the event will go to his family.
“We’re very much so doers. To just sit around and grieve is too hard. We wanted to help in any way possible,” said Hartman.