Nelson shopper Pam Hall had an unexpectedly emotional encounter at the Chahko Mika Mall on Monday afternoon when she met local car crash survivors Pat Henman and Maia Vezina. The mother-daughter pair were running a booth to raise awareness for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“Oh, wait a minute. You are the two?” Hall asked, after receiving a ribbon, a look of realization dawning on her — she’d heard about their fateful 2013 head-on collision. “I met you at the park one day with your puppy. Oh, wow. I’m so glad you’re well.”
And then Hall burst into tears, embracing both women as Henman’s husband Larry Vezina looked on. When asked by the Star how it feels to meet someone who has survived a drunk driving crash, Hall was still tearful.
“I’ve been thinking about these two for months and to see them here in one piece and beautiful as they are, it’s a blessing they’ve survived and here they are doing this. They’re living to tell the story.”
Hall plans to place the ribbon on her Christmas tree. Henman was thrilled with that outcome.
“We’re just trying to create awareness of the Red Ribbon program and Campaign 9-1-1. We know each other, we recognized each others’ faces, but then she remembered our story and that is the kind of connection we’re here for. Her awareness leapt 100-fold.”
Vezina noted drinking and driving spikes during the holidays, which is part of the reason they decided to host this table during the Christmas season. The pair are both struggling with ongoing health concerns, and Vezina is waiting for surgery, but they’ve started getting back into their lives.
“It’s still a struggle,” Vezina said. “This is a permanent disability. As a student they’ve acknowledged that now, so at least they understand and work around my needs, but it’s still a struggle walking around school.”
Henman, meanwhile, got back to directing this year with Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
“I’m slowly getting back into the arts. It really feeds my soul. When you’re in this state, we all need something to have purpose in our lives, and that’s what the arts have always been for me.”
She’s considering using her experiences to inform a new work.
“I have been thinking about how to mix our story with my arts background, taking it into non-fiction or some theatrical project. When I’m ready something will zip out.”