An emotional night was held at the Castor Community Hall on April 8.
The long-awaited Mental Health Gala, sponsored by the Alberta Rural Mental Health Project, was finally able to take place.
Originally scheduled to take place in February, the gala was postponed to April due to the high case numbers of COVID-19 in the province in December and January.
Around 200 people descended on the Castor Community Hall for an evening featuring a catered meal, a silent auction, an emotional guest speaker, and a dance which carried on into the early hours of the morning.
Doors for the event opened at 6 p.m. for cocktails with a bar run by the Castor Elks. Around 7 p.m., Bernie Doan blessed the meal prepared by Michelle Breum and her team.
Supper consisted of pork, carrots, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, two different salads and a variety of desserts. The desserts were supplied by Castor’s Paintearth Lodge and Mandy Fuller.
Castor’s youth helped contribute to make the night a success as well.
The Castor 4H club was helping out the caterers by clearing the supper plates and to help ensure that no one was drinking and driving the Gus Wetter School 2022 grad class was offering designated driver services.
At around 8 p.m. the main speaker took to the stage.
A ranch owner and former NHL goaltender, Clint Malarchuk has set his sights on helping others deal with their mental health journeys.
Malarchuk is most famously known for being the NHL goaltender who had his throat partially cut by a players skate in the late-1980s; an event where he nearly died.
According to Malarchuk, he lost nearly one-third of the blood in his body after that event, which resulted in over 300 stitches. The injury did not keep him out of action long as he returned to the ice under two weeks later, as soon as the stitches were removed.
However, that event marked Malarchuk permanently, causing his obsessive compulsive disorder and depression to get worse and also being the cause for a later diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder.
As time went on, Malarchuk began self medicating with alcohol and sliding deeper and deeper into the darkness of depression, eventually culminating in a suicide attempt.
After time in a state psychiatric facility, Malarchuk began the long road of mental health recovery and now divides his time between his ranch in the United States and his home in Calgary. He spends time as a mental health advocate and speaker talking about what has gotten him through the darkest times in his life.
“If you tell your story, somebody else will say ‘me too,’” said Malarchuk, during his presentation.
“Try to make people around you better … every day.”
After Malarchuk’s nearly 75-minute presentation, there was a question and answer session which lasted around another 45 minutes.
After the Malarchuck left the stage, the tables were cleared and the dance began which went on until about 1 a.m.