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Calgary father pushes past loss of 18-month-old child to bring people together

A Calgary man dealing with the loss of his 18-month-old son just two months ago wants to move past the grief and bring people together for an ice-skating party at the Ramsay rink on Christmas morning.

Spencer Weilermann has always had a complicated relationship with this time of year.

“Christmas has never really meant anything to me,” Weilermann told CBC News in an interview.

“Growing up we didn’t celebrate Christmas. I didn’t celebrate my first Christmas until I was 19. So I never actually felt that, I guess, that Christmas love and coming together with family.”

Ten years ago, on Boxing Day, he lost his grandmother. But it was a loss, just two months ago, that really put Weilermann in a dark place.

Spencer Weilermann looks at a Reddit post he made inviting Calgarians who don't love Christmas, to join him for an ice-skating party at the Ramsay Rink on Christmas morning at 10 a.m.
Spencer Weilermann looks at a Reddit post he made inviting Calgarians who don’t love Christmas to join him for an ice-skating party at the Ramsay rink on Christmas morning at 10 o’clock. (David Bell/CBC)

“My son was 18 months old. Healthy, happy, young boy. Unfortunately he just passed away suddenly on a Sunday afternoon. We are not really too sure what happened. Unfortunately I found him there, and did CPR, and we took him to hospital and he just unfortunately stopped, stopped breathing.”
  
But Weilermann decided he wanted to be active in his recovery from his son Rhett’s death, and maybe help out others at the same time.

He took to social media and shared his story, inviting anyone who struggles around this time of year to lace up and come out to an outdoor ice-skating party at the Ramsay rink.

Spencer Weilermann invited Calgarians to a Christmas morning ice-skating party at 10 a.m. His Reddit post got lots of engagement.
Spencer Weilermann invited Calgarians to a Christmas ice-skating party at 10 a.m. His Reddit post got lots of engagement. (Reddit)

“If you are on the fence about coming out, don’t be afraid. You know what, I am still afraid. I don’t know how many people are coming and regardless of how many people come we are going to have a great time,” he said.

Mental health researchers say surrounding yourself with positive people with a shared experience can be an effective way of dealing with loss.

Spread joy

And Weilermann hopes that’s the case on Christmas morning at 10 o’clock at the Ramsay rink at 2040 Ramsay Street S.E.

“Spread joy. It’s been a hard year for a lot of people, I think,” he said.

“Being in the service industry, where I rely on people coming to me, I see a lot of people struggling right now with money and food, so if taking five minutes out of your day to come and distract yourself, you know what, just bring a smile and good times.”

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