Fire survivor headlines speakers at gala for Monterey

Oak Bay firefighter foundation fundraiser for Monterey PAC runs May 29

Jesse Dill will be among the speakers at the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation's gala dinner May 29.

Jesse Dill will be among the speakers at the Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation's gala dinner May 29.

Hot on the heels of the Brenna Innes Memorial Soccer Tournament, burn survivor Jesse Dill can’t help but connect the passionate community there and local firefighters connecting with middle school students in Oak Bay.

The annual tournament held May 9 celebrates the life of a young woman who succumbed to smoke during a Victoria house fire in August 2007 along with her fellow University of Victoria student Chelsea Robinson.

Dill was among survivors that night.

“This was obviously a life-changing moment of the five survivors too,” Dill said, adding two have pursued medical school, one quit a government job to become a physiotherapist and the other is active in a similar field. “Sometimes your true calling comes out at interesting times.”

Left with burns over 35 per cent of his body, the B.C. Fire Fighter’s Burn Fund instantly became part of his life – a connection he maintains.

“I benefitted from all that Victoria had, that the community had to offer, in my recovery. One important one was the Burn House off of Jubilee [hospital],” he said. “I realized after the fire just how powerful a community can be to support you, to put you back on your feet and to essentially get you back to living a fulfilling life.”

In the intervening years he’s been active with the Burn Fund and their project to build the Burn Fund Centre, a home away from home for patients and families. The $13.1-million project adjacent to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn, Trauma and Plastics Unit at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital is just $1 million shy of its goal.

He likens the project to the outdoor classroom Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation is helping the Monterey parents advisory council raise funds for.

“What tangible projects do is they provide a resource for decades into the future,” Dill said.

“A structure provides a vision and a facility that will have an impact for all those who use it. It also gets people excited … We had drawings collecting dust on a shelf as recently as five or six years ago. But when you show illustrations that can be realized, it’s amazing how quickly that can become reality based on momentum and excitement of seeing something start to finish.”

The soccer tournament raised $20,000 this year for the Burn Centre in Vancouver and is among the projects that instantly sprang from a community mourning and honouring the two young women.

“The compassion for those girls and the understanding of who they were, that made me realize just how precious life is and how important it is to seize the opportunities before us,” Dill said. “I feel almost invincible [because of] the people who stood behind me … but also in meeting those who knew the two women, the realization of their outstanding character made me want to be that much better of a person moving forward.”

Dill will speak at the firefighter foundation event that will also feature music by the Stephanie Greaves trio along with other speakers and auctions. Funds raised will help Monterey’s parents association toward their roughly $50,000 target to build an amphitheatre to increase outdoor social and classroom opportunities at the middle school.

He’ll pepper his talk with humour and anecdotes, including some observations on the power of communities to look out for each other and far exceed their goals when purposeful projects are in reach.

“[I’ve learned] firefighters are people willing to risk their lives to save others and will do so in an instant, and secondarily realized that these firefighters across B.C. are some of the most outstanding fundraisers that we know,” Dill said. “That they’re open and willing to partner for tangible projects in their community needs to be celebrated and continued.”

Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation’s Gala Dinner to support Monterey Middle School is Friday, May 29. Purchase tickets online at oakbayfirefighters.com.

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Royal Roads University president Philip Steenkamp said they are aware of hateful graffiti spray-painted in an area of the forest surrounding the campus. The graffiti in question includes anti-Semitic content and a racial slur towards Black people. (Facebook/Royal Roads University)
Anti-Semitic, hateful graffiti spotted in forest near Royal Roads University

Royal Roads working with West Shore RCMP to remove graffiti “as soon as possible”

A cougar was spotted at Royal Roads University on Sunday, Jan. 24. The sighting was reported on the western edge of the campus. (File photo)
Cougar spotted at Royal Roads University Sunday afternoon

Animal reported on western side of campus near Colwood Fire Department

Saanich-based St. Luke’s Players community theatre company has been making the most of their opportunities to keep busy during the pandemic, including staging a Christmastime panto of Alice in Wonderland on Zoom. (Courtesy St. Luke’s Players)
Saanich’s St. Luke’s Players: Bringing the stage to the people

Community theatre company holding online auditions Jan. 23-24 for March production

Frank Bourree was awarded the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s first Governors’ Award of Distinction for his leadership in the business community. (Courtesy of Frank Bourree)
Frank Bourree receives award of distinction from Victoria chamber

Award recognizes positive role model in business community

The Habitat for Humanity Meaning of Home contest is open to students in Grades 5 to 6. (Screenshot/Habitat for Humanity video)
Habitat for Humanity launches national writing contest

Entries accepted from students in Grades 4 to 6 until Feb. 19

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

Most Read