Whitehorse resident Gordie Tentrees is giving back to the community that has supported him throughout his 10-year music career.
On December 10, the blues-rock musician is performing a benefit concert called Speedraiser for Paralympic hopeful Jessica Frotten at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse.
In 2009, Frotten, a Whitehorse native, was the victim of a car accident that confined her to a wheelchair. Determined to do something positive, Frotten began wheelchair racing. Now she is determined to attend an international qualifying race in Switzerland to make it to the Canadian national team.
Tentrees was inspired when he heard Frotten’s story.
“I really wanted to help a person in need and give something back to the community,” he says. “I admire Jessica’s courage, and I decided that I would try and help her achieve her dream.
“I just wrote her and asked if I could help. I heard she was borrowing a chair from her racing club to race, and I though that’s not right, she needs her own chair.”
Frotten’s story hit close to home for the singer.
“On New Year’s Eve, a very close friend of mine got into a car accident that left him in a wheelchair,” Tentrees says. “I admired how he was able to move on with his life and not let his disability get in the way of anything.”
They hope the benefit concert raises $2,500, with proceeds going towards travelling costs for the Swiss Circuit race.
Tentrees has also set up a crowd funding campaign on www.indiegogo.com, to raise $5,000 towards the purchase of a new racing chair.
This is Tentrees’ first benefit concert, and he hopes to make it an annual event. Joining him on stage will be teen musician Selina Heyligers-Hare, who has played in previous benefit concerts. Performing with her band Dead Simple, the budding rock star will definitely bring an extra edge to the show.
Having local musicians join him for the concert is important to Tentrees.
“I would like to be able to showcase local talent, so they can have the opportunity to perform, and if this is something I can do every year that would be awesome,’ he says.
Frotten, who currently lives in Regina and is a member of the Saskatoon Cyclones Racing Club, is excited about the Speedraiser concert.
“I don’t know Gordie personally, so when he wrote me I was completely surprised,” she says.
To date, Frotten has won five gold medals at various events. Although she did not make a conscious decision to be a racer, she is glad she has the talent for it.
“I was just looking for exercise while being in a wheelchair,” she says. “I tried different sports, but racing was the only one which appealed to me.”
Once Frotten committed herself to the sport, she began attending track meets and participating in different races, like the Dogwood Track and Field Meet in May 2013 in British Columbia at the University of Victoria. At this race she challenged herself in the 400 m and the 1500 m races. Her determination paid off; she won gold.
Wheelchair racing, like any sport, comes with a disciplined training regimen. Everyday Frotten spends two hours training for a race, followed by another workout program.
The Swiss Circuit race will be her first time competing internationally, and is the next step towards becoming a member of the Canadian team for the 2016 Paralympics.
With community support, and the musical styles of Gordie Tentrees and Selina Heyliger-Hare, Jessica Frotten’s Paralympic dream is just one race away.
The Speedraiser concert starts at 7:30 pm, on Tuesday, December 10 at the Old Fire Hall in Whitehorse. For ticket information go to www.yukontickets.com or call (867) 667-8574.