Over $50K Raised for Melissa’s Fight

Lakeland Friends hosts successful benefit for local family.

Photos provided by Wanda Seward of Lakeland Friends

Friends and family of a local family, the Stybas came together on Saturday evening to raise money and show their support for the family, who was hit with devastating news less than a month previous. On February 23rd, matriarch of the family, Melissa Styba was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Almost immediately upon hearing the news, local charity group, Lakeland Friends got together and organized a fundraising dinner/dance.

“The room was full of love,” Cathy Griffith, with Lakeland Friends says in just 17 days the event sold out at 273 people. Still tallying up the totals from the evening, Cathy says it’s safe to say the event brought in over $50,000 for the family. “We wanted to hold an event to get (Melissa’s husband) Corey some gas money to go to and from Edmonton,” Cathy explains the event started with small expectations. Melissa will be in Edmonton for a large part of her battle over the next six months and the group wanted to make sure the family didn’t have to worry about costs of travel and accommodations.

Melissa, and the whole Styba family are the essence of what it means to be a member of the community. If there’s a fundraiser or event, Melissa is there, often taking pictures or helping with the background of the event. She has been a member of Lakeland Friends from the beginning, and many know her and husband Corey from the Scouts. “They’ve very community oriented,” Cathy says the Styba’s are the type of people that would typically be the ones organizing an event like this.

The Stybas are known as being small-town-good-fun-people. That’s why when a pair of men at the event decided to go all the way to raise money it was completely fitting, “we auctioned off Matt (Carswell) & Byron (Longsberry) to get their heads shaved and that turned into who wanted to shave their heads.” Cathy explains, with a laugh, it snowballed from there, “that went to who wants to see them strip down to their underwear. We auctioned them off three times.”

Stella Stevens, with CFCW and a longtime friend of Melissa’s, along with Principal of the Ardmore School, Ken Pshyk were the Master of Ceremonies at the event and had the crowd going from bend over laughing to tears of joy.

“We didn’t have to ask for anything,” Cathy says the community really stepped up and silent auction items came flowing in. “Kelso Brennan at Thinkwerx, he was our hub,” Cathy says Kelso and the team at Thinkwerx really help the group pull off the event, allowing people to drop off silent auction items and assisting in anything Lakeland Friends needed, “any time we needed a sign, they’d have it for us. He just gave and gave.” Thinkwerx also designed and sold hoodies in support of the Styba’s, proceeds of which went directly to the family. Thinkwerx presented the family with a grand cheque at the fundraiser totaling $18,000. And to top off the niceness, Kelso won the 50/50 and donated it back to the fundraiser.

“Terri’s Catering donated all the food,” Cathy says the meal was fabulous, “it was chicken, ribs, meatballs. $100 plates.” Terri and Blaine Murphy, who also own Tank’d H2O and Get Trash’d really came through for the event, says Cathy, “they stepped it up for up. Tank’d H20 gave us a quad to auction off and raffle items.”

Following the meal and auction, the event had a poker tournament and sold horseshoes to help raise money. Following the money making efforts the evening lead into a family dance, with music, lights and sound services donated by DJ, Sean Craig.

“It was the community,” Cathy says some people even poked into the event just to bid on an auction item or sign the giant get-well soon card and left because the event was at capacity. Donations and assistance came pouring in, “I never had to beg for one thing, everybody offered before I could ask. Really, we’re just a bunch of mothers and fathers that are helping another mother.”

Lakeland Friends is a local non-profit organization based out of Bonnyville. The group raises money for various charities; including STARS Air Ambulance. Recently, the group has been focused on raising money for mental health initiatives in the Lakeland. Last spring, the group brought in Robb Nash and have booked the speaker to return to Bonnyville in September.