Grieving kids share their sunshine at Coquitlam gala

Images of sunshine — designed by the young clients from the charity that carries the late Coquitlam mother’s name — will be offered for sale at the 8th annual gala benefitting the Charlene Reaveley Children's Charity Society.



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Last year, the kids of Charlene Reaveley and her extended family painted bumblebees and ladybugs on river rocks.

For this year’s gala, images of sunshine — designed by the young clients from the charity that carries the late Coquitlam mother’s name — will be offered for sale.

The yellow, orange and red suns — painted last month during a skating party, organized by the Port Coquitlam-based Charlene Reaveley Children’s Charity Society (CRCCS) — are symbols of hope from the kids who have lost their loved ones.

Jennifer Reaveley, Charlene’s sister-in-law who is on the society’s board of directors, said the idea for sunshines came from a quote: “The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine our own light.”

“Suns show the rise of a new day,” she said. “It’s a new beginning as they’re journeying through their grief.”


The children’s contribution to this year’s gala — to be held April 6 at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver in Coquitlam — will have added meaning as Dan and Charlene’s eldest child, Kaeden, is now old enough to attend the 19+ fundraiser (his siblings Rebecca, Alicia and Tristan are too young).

“He’s seen first-hand how the charity has grown and the support that’s been offered,” said Jennifer Reaveley, a nurse. “He’s walked that journey alongside them [the young clients].”


Kaeden, Rebecca, Alicia and Tristan Reaveley, photographed last year.

Dan Reaveley formed the charity in memory of his wife who was killed by a drunk driver — in a hit-and-run accident — on Feb. 19, 2011, at Lougheed Highway and Pitt River Road, in Coquitlam. A Pinetree secondary graduate, Charlene loved children and, as a personal trainer, inspired people to be healthy.

Gala proceeds and other donations to the volunteer-run organization help pay for grief counselling, bursaries, camps and seasonal programs for some 200 B.C. families coping with a death.

Jennifer Reaveley said the Under The Big Top theme for the 8th annual gala is based on another quote — this one by P.T. Barnum: “The noblest art is that of making others happy.”

At the formal gala, guests can enjoy circus-like entertainment, draws and games, and dance until midnight to DJ sounds. Silent and live auction prizes can be bid on at the event while, starting April 1, an online auction opens with more items (go to

For the circus motif, “we wanted to show that there’s a fun side of life, and you can live life with a smile.”


To save a seat for the 8th annual Under the Big Top gala on Saturday, April 6, visit Tickets are $100 each and include a dinner at 7 p.m.

To donate auction prizes or to sponsor the Under the Big Top gala, email


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