Last Wednesday the community showed up in force to support one of their own. There was a reason the old gym at the high school overflowed with people; that reason is the kindness, and dedication Tony Pacheco has lived.
The line to get into the gym extended all the way down the hallway at points, and the sheer amount of people had the organizers scrambling for more food halfway through the event.
It went of without a hitch. Both the spaghetti line, and silent auction were bustling throughout the night, until Mayor MacDougall got up to say a few words. And when Pacheco got up to give his speech the gym fell silent, though many eyes were red afterward.
Glen Irving, Pacheco’s best man at his wedding in Smithers, summed up what everyone else was saying.
“The reason he’s so popular, the most popular worker Smithers had, was he went above and beyond.”
From those he works with, to those he plays with, people were impressed, not just by work ethic, but a love of helping those around him.
Irving, who came all the way from Prince Rupert to attend the event, was a pleasant surprise for Pacheco, who had no idea that he was coming. But Irving wasn’t the only one to come from outside Fort St. James. Pacheco’s family came up from Prince George, and a sister-in-law came from Quesnel.
Irving was keen to share stories about his old friend when they worked together at the rink in Smithers.
“This little girl, she was at the arena, and she lost her bike. He spent an hour or more helping this girl look for her bike.”
You could hear stories similar to Irving’s from the people at the rink here: how he helped tie skates, find skates for kids who don’t have them or help haul equipment for anyone using the rink.
With an attitude like Pacheco’s, his boss, Dennis Suharchuck the public works supervisor, is happy to have Pacheco as an employee.
“He’s an excellent employee. He’s so good with the public and people. He really cares about the arena, and the people.”
Pacheco’s overflowing kindness, and willingness to go the extra mile, has won over the community he grew up in. He’s earned the loyalty that was shown to him last Wednesday. From the kids playing hockey, to the Mayor of Fort St. James, the community is standing behind him, the sign of a true community builder.
“All of us will do anything to help,” said Mayor Rob MacDougall. “he won’t be alone on his journey. He’ll be in our thoughts and prayers.”
All the support offers Pacheco a well of strength to pull off of when it gets too hard.
“We’re all going through a hard time with the journey I’m on.” said Pacheko. “
All the encouragement is going to give me the power, hopefully, to pull me through this.”
The money will help him get through a difficult time when e can’t work, and the load of medications is taking it’s toll, but it’s the moral support, as much as anything that Pacheco cherishes.
“There was a card, shaped like a hockey jersey that people signed. I’ve got that tacked to the wall in my room so I can look at it everyday,” said Pacheco.
The whole night Pacheco was surrounded by people, chatting and getting enough hugs to satisfy a bear.
“The Fort is my home and always will be. It’s a great place to be,” said Pacheco.
His only regret for the night: there were too many people to thank personally.
“I wish I had the opportunity to talk to everybody and thank everybody,” said Pacheco.
And though he faces a difficult time ahead he’s hopeful for a recovery, and looking forward getting back to the people and job that he loves.
“Let’s face it,” Pacheco said his short speech, “the rink needs me, and I need the rink.”