Students welcome Paterson home
WELCOME HOME, NIC!
BMLSS student Nic Paterson catches up with some old friends during a special fundraiser and party held for him on Thursday May 31. Paterson was injured in a ski hill accident earlier this year, in which he was at least partially paralyzed. (Photo by Louis Tam)
Tears of joy and a never-ending string of hugs greeted Bracebridge student Nic Paterson last week as he returned home to a heartwarming fundraiser held in his honour.
Dubbed Nic’s Night, the fundraiser on Thursday, May 31 was the first time Paterson has been back in Bracebridge since he was injured in a Barrie ski hill accident about three months ago. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down and in a wheelchair, while his single mother Tammy has had to set aside her work as a private business owner to assist in his recovery.
A poignant hush filled the school’s auditorium as Paterson, sporting a pair of sunglasses and a cyan baseball cap, rolled through the front doors of the school on his motorized wheelchair. Paterson broke the silence curtly with a smile.
“Hey guys,” he said.
Cheers and pats on the back quickly followed as Paterson roamed the halls of his school. Throughout the evening, members of the community cast bids in a silent auction on over 150 items donated by students and the public. Items ranged from gift certificates and furniture to a flat screen television and handmade jewelry.
Nic’s Night also featured a number of dramatic and musical performances from students, and was catered by the school’s hospitality class.
Though Paterson’s recovery has taken him to health-care facilities in southern Ontario, his classmates never stopped thinking of him after his departure.
“They desperately wanted to do something to support Nic somehow, because it was hard for them to get down and see him initially,” said school secretary Theresa Lyall.
Paterson returned their goodwill by showing the recovery he’s made since the accident. A round of applause rang out as he lifted one of his legs into the air.
Tammy was at a near loss for words after witnessing the outpouring of generosity. In the aftermath of the event, she thanked attendees for their ongoing support.
“I would like the staff and students of BMLSS to know how incredible our family thinks each and every one of you are,” she said. “I haven’t met many of you before, but your warm hearts and caring for my son is incredibly moving.”
The fundraiser was just one in a series of events put on by the South Muskoka community in recent months for Paterson. In mid-April, residents in Gravenhurst held a similar fundraiser at an area restaurant. In May, BMLSS students held a scrap metal fundraiser, which was followed by a special fundraising paintball match at Back Country Paintball about three weeks ago.
“We are so lucky to have you in our court through this adventure,” Tammy said to the South Muskoka community. “We will never forget your support and kindness.”
On behalf of the students who organized Nic’s Night, Lyall also thanked the community for helping put the event together.
“We couldn’t have done it without them, it’s just been overwhelming,” she said.
Friends have set up a website, www.nicpaterson.com, where messages of support and donations can be made. The website also provides regular updates on Paterson’s continuing recovery. Donations can also be made through a trust fund at the Bracebridge TD Canada Trust branch.