The community of Port Alberni is giving back in the memory of a young local hockey player.
Krista Plaunt was an avid and talented hockey player in her life. She started off with the Alberni Valley Minor Hockey Association in her childhood, playing on the U16 and U18 rep teams. She continued playing recreationally in the Port Alberni Ladies Non Contact Hockey League as an adult.
“It was a passion for her,” said her mother, Barb Anderson.
Anderson raised Krista as a single mother and worked an extra job so she could support Krista’s hockey. In Krista’s Grade 12 year, Anderson was involved in an accident that left her unable to work. Anderson applied to KidSport and the organization was able to help finance Krista’s love for hockey.
”KidSport helped me when I needed them most,” said Anderson.
But Krista took her own life in October 2017, shortly after her 23rd birthday.
On the outside, Krista appeared to be content. She was working hard as a full-time college student and playing hockey in her free time. But her mother knew she was struggling.
“She was battling in the last month,” said Anderson. “She just didn’t know what else to do.”
Anderson had asked for donations to KidSport in lieu of flowers, so a number of Krista’s friends and teammates—her “hockey family,” as Anderson refers to them—decided to raise some money in Krista’s name. In her memory, the Krista Plaunt Memorial Games was organized.
The event was organized largely by two of Krista’s childhood friends, Nicolette Savard and Kelsy Turner.
“They threw this all together in a couple of months,” said Anderson. “They put it together during Christmas, while they were working full-time and dealing with their own grief. It was amazing.”
Former teammates and friends came from as far as the North Island, Salmon Arm and Powell River to be a part of the fundraising event on Saturday, Jan. 27. Four teams competed in the games, and the whole event saw around 150 people come through the doors. Local businesses donated items to be raffled, and some of the participants kicked in extra money.
“The turnout was fabulous and the support was amazing,” said Anderson.
The raffle raised more than $3,000 for KidSport—a donation that will assist at least 10 more youth in playing the sport of their choice.
Anderson and other participants are hoping that the event will become an annual tradition, and that it can grow to become a tournament.
“We want to do this so that more kids can get out there and do what she did,” said Anderson. “If they find a passion they should be able to stick to it.”
Anderson said she wanted the memorial event to raise awareness around mental health struggles, as well.
“I’m just so grateful for my whole community,” said Anderson. “[Krista] touched a lot of these people in her own life. The support has been just overwhelming.”
— With files from Sonja Drinkwater