A Banff man says he is overwhelmed by the community support he has received since a serious bicycle crash on the Trans-Canada Highway in western Alberta.
Larry Melnik, who prefers the name "Crazy Larry," is an avid cyclist who is well-known in the Bow Valley area.
He has always been present to cheer on people at international bike races. Another passion is to donate his time at children's events to make balloon animals.
Melnik was biking on the Trans-Canada Highway from Banff to Canmore more than a week ago when the trailer he was towing became unstable in the wind.
After hitting a bump, he crashed into the side of the road and later woke up in hospital with a concussion, collapsed lung, broken ribs and severe road rash.
"The wind took it. I started to try and get it in control, I hit that frost heave — and boom — that's the last thing I remember," he said.
Donations from around the world
Even though she didn't know him well, Lisa Rosvold put out a call for donations online.
"Just through his Facebook page, and of course you see him all over town all the time," she said.
Rosvold says he doesn't make a lot of money, and knew he would have a hard time recovering. She started an online fundraising campaign the night of his crash.
"I literally set it up and then went to bed, and woke up and it was almost at $5,000," said Rosvold.
People from all over the world — including Denmark, England and Australia — have donated more than $20,000 to help with his recovery.
"Everybody has an Everest, and everybody's Everest is special," said Melnik. "And so I'm just on my Everest right now and my heart just goes out to all those who have helped me because I am going to conquer this."
Positive impact on Bow Valley
Rosvold thinks it's because he has made such a positive impact on people in the area, even international visitors who come to town for cycling events.
The money will help Melnik get back on his feet by paying for his rent and therapy. He also plans to buy a glow-in-the-dark helmet with part of the money for when he gets back on his bike. He hopes that is soon, as he wants to participate in the Tour Divide race.
"All of a sudden when I see all the donations it just inspires me that you guys are going to help me cross the finish line."
He says residents of the Bow Valley have become his family. Melnik says the area helps him thrive and allows him to stay true to himself.
"I've separated myself from my family so long ago and I just don't have sense of family," said Melnik.
"And when I have this outpouring of donations and I guess — I haven't been able to read on my Facebook yet — all the comments were so nice, some people came by here and read a few of them, it brought me to tears."