“It was like Michelle was there.”
That’s how Sandra Webster sums up a fundraiser and dance held Saturday in Princeton to raise money for a bursary that remembers her daughter, who died 25 years ago.
“My husband and myself are just so filled with joy and love for this community, for the kids, for the people that contributed, my family, my friends, my co-workers. I could thank the whole town, honestly.”
The fundraiser, in memory of Michelle Webster, was organized by members of the teen’s graduating class, and raised more than $12,000 with donations continuing to pour in.
An only child, Michelle died as the result of a car accident in November 1992, during her grad year.
“They are an exceptional class,” said Sandra. “They stuck together and they are close together. Whether Michelle’s passing made them closer, I don’t know. They never stopped visiting us or touching base with us and they are always wondering how we are doing.”
A Princeton Secondary School bursary was established after Michelle died, funded by donations from friends and family.
The money for the scholarship, recognizing an all-round excellent student, ran out two years ago and the Websters have been carrying on with what is an important tradition in their family.
“Our intention is to help the kids…and preserving Michelle’s memory is very precious,” she said.
“We had no intention of getting help, we were going to continue with the bursary.”
But that’s where Michelle’s former classmates had other plans.
“The idea was to do a fundraiser to help replenish the funds and keep her name going. We want her to be remembered for sure…Everyone loved her,” said Nicki Forde, who organized the event along with Kristy Ortwein and Trina Melanson.
The women sold 100 tickets and collected donations of prizes and volunteer help. There were numerous draws and a silent auction.
“It was amazing,” said Forde, noting the 50-50 prize winner donated the winnings back, and other guests refused to accept change and kept stepping forward with more cash.
“They were paying right up. It blew me away..I want to put a huge thank you out to the businesses that supported this and the community.”
They didn’t tell Sandra and her husband Alf about the fundraiser until the day before.
“She was so surprised that we kept it a secret for so long,” said Forde.
With the money raised, the Websters have decided to double the amount of the annual bursary to $1,000.
With so many members of Michelle’s class together Saturday night, many memories were shared during the evening. “It was like a reunion only better,” said Forde.
Sandra put it slightly different.
“I’m so in awe of it all. It was like a big happy celebration. The people at the Legion, they were unbelievable…It was just happiness all around and it was like Michelle’s wedding. It was that sort of atmosphere. I don’t know if I am using the right words but that is how it felt.”