'They were royalty': Humboldt disabled community struggling to cope with Broncos crash

The head of a non-profit that helps disabled people says her clients never missed a Broncos game.

“To say that they’re doing good would not be true,” CEO

Futuristic Industries CEO Meagan Ward’s sons lost friends and a coach in the crash. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

On Wednesday, Dayna Brons died, bringing the death toll to 16. Read the latest here.

It's hard to find anyone who idolizes the Humboldt Broncos more than the people at Futuristic Industries.

Futuristic Industries is a non-profit that offers housing and work supports for 40 people, and after weekend games CEO Meagan Ward always knew she could rely on clients like Murray Renz to update her on who scored and who made the best saves.

"The guys here absolutely didn't miss a game. In fact, if we wanted to do some evening programming it was completely based around the Humboldt Broncos schedule," Ward said.

Ward is not speaking with hyperbole. She recalls a night where she was planning cooking programming on a weeknight before a client tuned her in and said they had to reschedule so they didn't miss a Broncos game.

"To them, they were part of the Bronco family. They lived and breathed for those Broncos. To them, you ask them, they were royalty,'' Ward said.

Coping with loss

The past few days have been a struggle. Rather than reciting the scores of the playoff game the Broncos had been scheduled for before a collision that killed more than half the team and a number of support staff, Futuristic's staff has been supporting its members as they cope with a sudden and devastating loss.

"To say that they're doing good would not be true," Ward said.

She is proud though, that the group of more than a dozen she works with have been reminiscing and also looking ahead to next season "and welcoming new Broncos into our communities."

Broncos busmate befriended clients

Those who were killed were not just bright lights on the ice, they were known personally to Futuristic's clients. Renz recalls playing floor hockey with the team's volunteer statistician Brody Hinz.

"Brody Hinz got killed and I miss him," Renz said. 
Murray Renz, 54, builds pallets and other items with Futuristic Industries. (Bridget Yard/CBC News)

Ward said she has been fielding calls from social services and partnering agencies to check in on the men she works with.

"I think with grief comes a sense of closeness and you can definitely feel the grief in the air and when you go to businesses and when you talk to people," she said.

The pain on Renz's face is visible when he said he has not been doing very good since finding out about the crash. Ward, with tears in her eyes, showed that she was there to help him through it.

with files from Bridget Yard