When the Lifesaving Society first invited local hero Chris O’Gorman to Vancouver to be recognized for his daring Kootenay River rescue last June, he assumed that he would attend the swanky gala wearing the Davy Crockett-style buckskin shirt he was wearing that day.
“I thought I should wear my buckskin shirt because I think it’s really beautiful and it was part of the story. But they kind of impressed on me, repeatedly, how formal the event was going to be,” he said, noting that he might look out of place amidst the dignitaries and bagpipe-players.
The South Slocan man, who works as a cab driver locally, surveyed his friends of comparable size and build to see if he could rustle up something appropriate, but was unable to come up with anything. Undeterred, he drove into downtown Nelson and bought his first ever business suit from Baker Street Menswear.
“It feels pretty different, but I like it,” O’Gorman said. “I think I look pretty good.”
(The Star has requested photographic evidence of this makeover.)
Now, along with three friends, O’Gorman be looking dapper during the awards ceremony in Vancouver on March 28.
Hosted in the Hotel Vancouver, the ceremony will be held in the ball room and will feature an appearance from BC’s Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.
O’Gorman was featured on the front cover of the Star last summer after he interrupted a morning walk with his Russian mountain dog Boris to rescue an 84-year-old Glade resident from an overturned boat.
Using his own canoe, which had been stashed at the nearby trailhead, O’Gorman navigated using a makeshift paddle. He returned the man to safety before emergency personnel could even arrive on scene.
The award from the Lifesaving Society is meant to honour civilian rescuers. O’Gorman said it feels good to be recognized, though he continues to maintain the rescue was a “stroke of luck”.
“I feel good to have had the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time and to help someone. For sure I feel good about it, because I was helping a dude in serious trouble. Someone might pull me from that same river someday,” he said.
O’Gorman attended the 85th birthday of the man he rescued, and presented him with the paddle he used.
“He’s a pretty quiet, reserved, traditional Doukhobor guy. I haven’t bothered him too much since, but it was a real nice evening because I was introduced to his whole family from the Okanagan and the coast.”
When O’Gorman handed over his present, the man declared that he was going to mount it above his patio.
“I think that’s awesome,” said O’Gorman.