After his son’s tragic death at the age of 15, local father Rusty Clunie asked himself, would his son be remembered? Did he have an impact on the community?
“Obviously, I can say now, yes he did,” he said after the unveiling of Max Clunie Field on Friday, in honour of his son.
“The naming of this field is an overwhelming honour and will forever be the answer to that question.”
An opening ceremony, unveiling a sign featuring the field’s new name, fittingly took place on Friday night.
Fitting, because the lights shining brightly on those attending the ceremony signal a dream of Max’s coming true — a well-lit football field for night games.
Max, along with Danny Mantyka of Prince Albert, Wade and Cam Cooper from the Senlac area, and pilot Andre Gagnon of Quebec, died as the result of the airplane they were in crashing on June 30, 2011.
“If you knew Max, you knew that he was hard-working, persistent, driven, tenacious and big-hearted,” Max’s football buddy Lukas McConechy said.
“He was the kind of guy that never gave up, and he always achieved his goals, all except for one. Max had a dream, a goal if you will, of bringing lights to Prince Albert.”
With Max’s determined spirit, named “Max Power” by friends and supporters, guiding them, the community galvanized earlier this year, raising almost $700,000 in two weeks to pay for the lighting project at Prime Ministers’ Park.
“Never before has our community come together like this, which goes to show that everyone here has a little ‘Max Power’ in their hearts,” McConechy said.
Never before has our community come together like this, which goes to show that everyone here has a little ‘Max Power’ in their hearts. - Lukas McConechy
A handful of fundraising committee members spoke during Max Clunie Field’s dedication ceremony, all speaking fondly of Max as a person and an inspiration to the community.
“We want the spirit and energy of Max to be ever-present here,” Gord Broda said. “We hope it will help push people to believe in their abilities and to chase their dreams and to put 110 per cent into whatever it is they are doing — to believe it can be done.
“We hope that ‘Max Power’ will remind people to respect each other, to be honourable and kind at all times. To be the friend that you want to have and to be the best person that you can be.”
Although proud of his son’s legacy, Rusty Clunie said that Max would be a little embarrassed by all the attention.
Max would want equal attention paid to the others who died on June 30, he said.
He would also like people to remember Ben Darchuk, Matthew Gendron and Jim Glass, all of whom died unexpectedly this year, with donations toward the Friday Night Lights project made in their honour.
After the Max Clunie Field’s dedication ceremony on Friday, the inaugural Canadian Tire Classic was held, with the Carlton Crusaders playing the St. Mary Marauders. The results of the game can be found on the sports page of Saturday's Daily Herald.