Family and friends Ben Gardecki, who passed away last February in a snowmobile accident, gathered for the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the baseball diamonds in Falher, on June 14.
Organizer of the event, Mila Walisser raised $1,350 in donations to create the commemorative plaque and chose the baseball diamond as a suitable location because it was there that Ben and his friends often rendezvoused, especially during Honey Fest.
“It is where we shared lots of memories together, not just Ben and I but lots of our friends, because every year the Honey Fest was something we all did together,” says Walisser. “The Honey Fest was an event that Ben looked forward to every year, as we all do and we all met at the baseball diamond. He loved to play ball and he loved the Honey Fest for sure.”
In raising funds, Walisser contacted Tarpon in Valleyview where Ben, a Certified Instrumentation Engineering Technologist and 4th year registered apprentice was employed.
The Tarpon Company donated $500 and the Tarpon Social Club donated an additional $500.
Walisser also received a $250 donation from Martin Deerline in Falher where Ben had a summer job while a high school student a G.P. Vanier.
An avid golfer, Ben spent much of his free time at Five Star Golf Club, so Five Star donated $100 towards the commemorative plaque.
While Mila Walisser came up with the idea and raised the money for the commemorative plaque, she acknowledges that Lynn Farrell at the Town of Falher Office provided substantial assistance.
“Lynn Farrell helped 100 percent,” says Walisser. “She helped order the plaque through a company in Edmonton and with Falher Public Works to get the it put up. She was a major help.”
Speaking of why she came up with the idea of the commemorative plaque, Walisser said she thought that Ben Gardecki should have some kind of tangible, permanent recognition.
“He is for sure in everyone’s heart and everyone thinks about him all the time, but to have something physical where in the future a little kid can ask who he was, it felt like the right thing to do. And I knew I wanted to share this moment with everyone.”
Ben’s parents and his sister Amanda attended the dedication and after Mila Walisser said a few words to the crowd, she unveiled the plaque with assistance of Ben’s father.
Ben’s sister Amanda also spoke, expressing her family’s appreciation for the plaque and for Ben’s friends coming out to participate in the unveiling.
Below a picture of Ben, the inscription on the plaque reads, “Ben Gardecki, 1995 – 2019 “A beautiful life came to a sudden end/ He died as he had lived, everyone’s friend.”