A collective of friends and community members came together to celebrate and support a dear friend on Feb. 10.
The event was a fundraiser to support Michelle Ball LaPlace, a Williams Lake woman who underwent a heart transplant in Vancouver late January.
LaPlace was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 2016, and was suffering from congestive heart failure. The condition left her in need of a new heart.
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Friends and family rallied around LaPlace who will need to stay in Vancouver close to the hospital as she recovers from the transplant. The money raised will go towards the expenses LaPlace will have as she lives in the city while she heals.
At least 250 people attended the event, which saw three bands keep the crowd entertained, featured a catered dinner as well as a silent auction held throughout the night.
A highlight of the evening saw LaPlace and her husband Jamie speak to the crowd via video conference, as LaPlace, although discharged from the hospital, will need to remain in Vancouver for at least the next three months.
Michelle and her husband, Jamie, appeared projected on the wall on a large screen. People lined up to speak to them directly, many showing emotion to the fact that LaPlace said she felt better than she had in a long time.
When asked by the Tribune for a comment to the people of Williams Lake, she didn’t hesitate.
“We’re so overwhelmed at the support from our family and it just makes me so proud to be able to call Williams Lake my hometown,” LaPlace told the Tribune. “I brag about it everywhere I go all the time because the people there are truly the best and they are demonstrating that by supporting Jamie and I, the way they are. I love my community.”
Organizer Cindy Nadeau said the event was a success.
“The outpouring of kindness and generosity from this community is nothing short of amazing.”
While the final total is not yet in, Nadeau said they raised over $12,000.
“Good things happen to good people. Michelle and Jamie are good people. I have known them for a few years and Michelle has always been the first one to lend a helping hand to anyone who needs it. She lights up a room with her infectious smile.”
Nadeau extended a thank you to everyone who donated, volunteered and helped make the event happen.
“We are all so proud of our community.”