Benefit concert for Ashlie Drake this Saturday

May 3, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Wendy Gabrek


Ashlie Drake, 20, of Alliston, was involved in a horrific car accident on Nov. 16, 2016, that left her without the use of her legs.
Having broken her neck as a result of an air bag deployment after losing control of her vehicle after sneezing, Ashlie is now working hard to recover and rediscover her new normal, while her parents, Christine and Paul, implement changes to their home that will allow Ashlie to live a normal life.
“Ashlie Drake was born June 1, 1996 in Toronto. As a baby we knew that Ashlie was a child that was truly a special gift to all of us and anyone that was going to meet her. Ashlie as a baby was always smiling, or laughing and loved to be outdoors and always curious to learn and explore the surroundings around her,” said mom Christine.
“(The day of the accident) Ashlie was driving home early Saturday morning to come home for a class that we were going to attend and then enjoy the Alliston Santa Claus Parade then we were going to take her back to Peterbrough where she attended college,” Christine told The Times. “Ashlie sneezed while driving, hit the soft shoulder and then went to correct and then the car went into the ditch and the air bag went off and she was taken to Southlake Hospital, then rushed to Sunnybrook where they examined her more and took Ashlie into emergency surgery right away. Once the surgery was done the surgeon came to my husband and I and said that the surgery went well and that Ashlie’s neck was broken and her spinal cord was severed 80% and that Ashlie has a one per cent chance of ever walking again and that his main goal for her is to be able to one day feed herself. We now need to completely renovate our home by ripping down the back part of the house and (adding) a complete addition to retrofit for Ashlie’s accessible needs.”
Ashlie had been receiving treatment at Lyndhurst Spinal Cord Rehab Hospital and returned home April 28, a month past her original discharge date due to complications with her health and a delay receiving her custom wheelchair.
Ashlie will be living at home while construction takes place – renovations estimated to cost approximately $600,000. The Drakes have elected to remodel over moving, as Ashlie is the seventh generation to be raised in the family home.
“Ashlie went into great detail about her accident with my husband, Paul, and I and remember (that moment) so crystal clearly,” said Christine. “That morning I was getting ready with my other daughter, Samantha, and looked at the clock and noticed that Ashlie wasn’t home yet so I had asked Sammy to give Ashlie a call to see if she had left yet, because our class was going to start soon. Sammy called and said that a man answered the phone so she hung up thinking she dialled the wrong number. I then called her back, thinking she should be here by now, and maybe she slept in. A man answered her phone and it went silent on the line. Instantly my phone rang with her number and that’s when I knew something was wrong. The officer explained that Ashlie had been in an accident and that I needed to get to the hospital right away.”
“My first reaction was that she was okay, so I calmly asked about the car and he said its a complete right off. That’s when I knew it was bad.”
Mr. and Mrs. Drake have been affected by Ashlie’s accident in many ways, including financially.
“I took an emergency leave for compassionate care to be able to care for Ashlie and understand what’s involved with a spinal cord injury and proper care to maintain quality of life for her,” explained Christine. “Paul continues to work six days a week to maintain our home and care for our other children.”
But the Drakes are not alone with the weight of this change in their lives.
“We’ve had a lot of support within our community one of Ashlie’s friend set up a Go Fund Me page, Ernest Cumberland (Samantha’s school) did a fundraiser to help out our family at Christmas. All the wonderful teachers ensured Sammy and her brother Tyler had lunches for school and made dinners for our family. Banting also did an event for us as well. Ashlie’s best friend’s mother, Valerie Dever, went out of her way to make dinners to for our freezer so all Paul had to do was heat it up.”
Christine shared privately that three local organizations had also given donations.
“We have thanked them personally, rather than publicly at this time,” confirms Christine.
During the month of December, Paul’s co-workers also donated a percentage of their pay cheques, matched by the company owner, plus a percentage of sales for the month. His bosses wife’s company followed suit. The Athletic Department at Sir Sandford Fleming College, where Ashlie attended school, hosted an ugly Christmas sweater fundraiser and a local business held a small event for her. Students in the program Ashlie attended also held a fundraising for her as well.
This Saturday, May 6, the “Benefit Concert for Ashlie Drake” will be held at St. John’s United Church in Alliston. The concert features several talented musicians, and tickets are $20. Donations and sponsorships are also being accepted towards the remodeling of the family farm house.
“A group of citizens have come together and are organizing this benefit concert to raise monies to assist the family,” said concert organizer and event committee chair, George Stamper. “Entertainment will be provided by a number of local artists, including country and gospel singer Naomi Bristow. Naomi is well known in the area having performed a number of local concerts in her young career. She has travelled across Canada and the USA performing for thousands. Naomi also spends time in Nashville performing in concerts and on TV as well as recording.”
“Also performing is Daniel Panette of the Canadian Tenors. Daniel is originally from Angus and now resides in Toronto. Daniel is  25 years of age and is making a name for himself in the music world performing in Canada, the U.S., Australia, South America and Europe. Daniel is a singer, songwriter, musician and pianist who performs jazz, pop rock and opera and is a member of the Canadian Tenors. He has performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Beaches Jazz Festival in Toronto. Daniel is one artist you do not want to miss. Also performing is the bluegrass group Beeton Creek Rising, Dogflower performing Celtic  music, John Dodington and the Dodington Youth Singers. The evening is offering a variety of music.”
Baked pies will also be auctioned by Town of New Tecumseth Mayor, Rick Milne.
“The concert is an opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and at the same time enjoying an evening of fine music presented by musician that are donating their time,” adds George.
“We will be attending the concert at our Church and Ashlie will be there as well,” Christine confirmed. “My biggest hope for Ashlie in the future is that she continues to live life to the fullest the way she wants and gives it all she’s got and fulfills all her goals she sets forth. As Ashlie says, ‘Mom they say impossible and I say to them you mean possible and doable right? With a smile on her face.”
Although Ashlie did not comment personally, her mom confirms that she’s been “very positive right from day of the accident,” and even when she was told of the low percentage chance of ever walking again, she replied, “Well at least it’s not zero.”
“There’s another 99 ways to figure it out, and let the journey begin because where there’s a will there’s a way,” Ashlie has said to her mom.
Tickets for Saturday’s concert can be purchased in Alliston at Mike’s Family Restaurant and Herbert’s Boots and Western Wear, in Beeton at Foodland and in Tottenham at Cedar Kitchen and Home Hardware.
Donations can also be made to The Ashlie Drake Benefit  Fund at the Royal Bank in Beeton or  to GoFundMe: Ashlie’s Road to Recovery.
A bank account has also been setup at the Royal Bank in Beeton under the name, “The Ashlie Drake Benefit Fund.”
Committee members for the concert are George Stamper, Annette Beausaert, Lynda Bristow, John and Marti Dodington, Sue Zylski and Ken Pratt.
For further information call 905 729-2836 or 905 936-9647.

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