Excitement was in the air when it was announced that Garth Brooks was coming to Calgary’s centennial Stampede, but that soon turned to disappointment for many Calgarians when the show sold out in 58 seconds.
A local family lucky enough to snag some extra tickets decided to hold a contest called the Garth Brooks Project — looking for someone with "the best reason" why they should get the hottest ticket around.
Out of almost 1,200 letters submitted, the concert passes went to Colton Macdonald.
But it was a bittersweet victory for the 18-year-old firefighter who is looking to get on with the Calgary Fire Department.
He wrote the letter in remembrance of his mother, who died from pancreatic cancer.
Macdonald said his parents were very big into country music and often sang each other love songs when he was growing up.
His letter describes how they shared a moment during his mom’s last days, even though his parents had been separated for years.
"One day, my father came to see her and my mother asked him to sing The Dance," he said. "Only one problem, the hospice wouldn't allow it in her room so we took a video camera and moved into the gathering area that they had at the hospice. With tears in my eyes, I recorded my dad start to sing the song, all of us watching."
Contest organizer moved by story
Colton’s letter struck a chord with the contest’s organizer.
"The sincerity with what he was telling us was so pure and so real it was hard not to take it to heart," said Michaelle LeManne.
On Monday night, the Macdonald family was surprised with the two tickets to go see Garth Brooks sing — which Colton decided to give to his sister Melissa and his dad.
"At first I knew that Colton must have been behind it and he must have been working for a long time, and then I was shocked but not surprised," said Melissa, adding she tried to give the tickets back.
"I tried last night. He said, ‘You know I did this for you guys.’ ... It's very humbling."
In the end, Colton was glad he could do something in memory of his mom.
"I know what she's probably saying now is that she's proud of all of us for staying so strong after," he said.