Around 300 family members and friends gathered Friday night to honour the memory of Brian Ilesic and create a lasting legacy for the young daughter he left behind.
Ilesic, 35, was one of three armoured car guards gunned down at the University of Alberta Hub mall on June 15.
Organizers, including Ilesic’s close friend of over 20 years, Cielito Villanueva, put the event together in just under four weeks. They decided to call the fundraiser “Brian’s Promise” to reflect the deep commitment that Ilesic had to his daughter Kiannah.
Villanueva said the current tally sits at about $30,000 – more than double the original goal set – with more funds yet to be counted. The money raised will be placed in a trust fund established for Ilesic’s daughter.
At the fundraiser Friday night Ilesic’s brother Keith told the crowd, “We are here tonight to ensure that Kiannah’s life will be exactly what my brother would have expected and wanted it to be for his daughter – to have life experiences, to have a higher education and to have her needs looked after.”
Supporters packed The Rink on St. Albert Trail, and with tents, tables and chairs from Elegant Touches, the sports grill even offered a temporary patio to accommodate the crowd. Entertainment featured live music from three bands including the Raygun Cowboys, El Kabong and Saga. A 50/50 draw, silent auction and a live auction featuring the auctioneering talent of Mayor Nolan Crouse raised money at the event.
Young Kiannah wasn’t in attendance, but Villanueva says they are putting together a video and pictures of the night for her. “Something she can keep for the rest of her life,” Villanueva said.
“Kiannah is only 12 years old and she has the rest of her life ahead, which is now why her family and Brian’s close friends and the people in this room are here,” Keith said at the event. “We now are the guardians of her future.”
Villanueva said they are hoping to make the fundraiser an annual function, and possibly host a combined event to generate funds for both Kiannah and the two sons left behind when Eddie Rejano, 39, was killed along with Ilesic at the Hub Mall shooting. Michelle Shegelski, 26, was the other guard gunned down that day and another was critically injured.
“It’s the least I can do,” said Villanueva said. “I would trade it all for him to be here.”