While there are many other stories that yet need to be told, some wonderful, some not so much...there is something very special I want to share today about My Time in Fort Mac.

A person never responds to a tough situation like Fort McMurray's Wildfire by thinking about the gifts they would get, but as I found out, gifts and "Love Letters" as I call them have been coming in to me in a rather big way.

From the gang at A1 Supply
These letters (emails & texts) and gifts mean the world to me. They were given to me as a direct thank you for the hours I put in as a volunteer. They are accepted and cherished by me knowing full well that I had a team behind me, but that I also did my part to bring some comfort and nourishment to those who valiantly fought the "Beast".

Forever, these special treasures, will remind me of a time that I am so grateful to have been a part of; a time when this motorcycle community supported the firefighters of Fort McMurray and all of the fire teams who came to support them as well.

From the FM Firefighters Assoc.
Coin, T-shirt & Patch
There are no words to express how full they make my heart as I remember the faces, the names, the smiles, the tears, the tiredness, the kindnesses that were shared during this tragic time in our province.

There simply are no words that can fully convey how I feel and so I want to, need to share these with you and want to understand that for whatever role you played in aiding me in my quest to help the tremendous team of Fort Mac - wherever they came from, these letters are as much for you as they are for me.

Challenge coins from the Alberta Sheriffs
Legacy Place Society, An eagle gnome bell
Coin from Glenn Chaulk; Syncrude FD,
& The Volunteer Firefighters
 Jade Robinson /react-text  Betty was the first face we seen when we arrived in Fort McMurray after travelling from Calgary. She was also the first face you seen every time our rigs came back too the staging area. Thank you Betty for everything you did for us, you were appreciated!!!

Brock Adams /react-text She looked after us, walking the line of trucks bringing us what we needed or wanted. "Guardian Angel" is perfect, thank you Belt Drive! Thanks Global for telling her story, she deserves recognition

Austen Tanney /react-text She fed me 5 meals! Belt Drive Betty is amazing and a saint! Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou

Pins from Leduc City Fire and
the Alberta Sheriffs 
Bronwyn Taylor /react-text This wonderful woman was like our own mama bear taking care of us for the 6 days we were there. Wonderful soul.

Darcy Lemieux /react-text You'll always be in our Hearts and prayers Betty keep up team up all the good work
Love from your friends @
Mac island

Darren MacDonald /react-text Thanks Betty. For the many nights on duty, you fed me.

Colin Hargrove /react-text Made me a sandwich at 4am and then gave me a hug, sure knew how to make a man cry.
Thanks again!!!!!!

Stuffed Firehouse Dalmation
from Jim of
Leduc City Fire Dept.
Trey Hale /react-text She fed my crew and I while we were there ! Absolutely amazing! Thank you from the bottom of my

Danny Freeman /react-text Not only a Godsend but a giggle too! Thanks Betty

Matt Rice /react-text This is a great lady and I met her while she was in FtMac

Darrel Comeau /react-text I'm glad I finally got to put a face to this womans voice! We dropped off supplies and there was hot coffee ready for us, and she was sleeping on a cot with a tiny sleeping bag, curled up and freezing. So I grabbed what we had in the trailer for blankets and sleeping bags and just hope I made her a little warmer like she did for our crew. So if anyone knows her personally, tell her thank you.

A gift from Carol Conrad
Emmy Hoover /react-text  Thank you so much for taking care of my brothers and sisters out there. You have no idea how loved and appreciated you really are. I don't even need to ask them to know. God bless you and all you do for them. You have a heart of gold sweet lady!

I understand that you have undertaken feeding and providing support to the firefighters and RCMP members who are on the ground in FMM? I'm a spouse of a retired RCMP corporal and I help run a support group for RCMP wives. I've heard from several that they have been concerned about the lack of food, etc available for our members and the other first responders so I wanted to thank you for all that you are doing and wondered if you are accepting etransfers to help provide for the first responders that I could pass along to our group to see if we can help out a bit? Unfortunately, having been through this several times with my husband deployed in the past, I know all too well that they often get forgotten in the chaos and I am so thankful that you've stepped up to make sure that isn't happening there.

Colton Boutin /react-text  The legend. One of the first things the crew we were replacing said was the Motorcycle people will feed you. She worked hard up there. Even cleaned the bathrooms for all of us fire guys. Thanks Betty

Dave Roe /react-text I had a good long chat with Betty and the challenges and struggles she faced to provide food for those in the early days of this crisis. Thank you Betty for your perseverance and watching out for us. It isn't just a boost for our energy but a boost for morale to see you supporting us. Thank you

Brad Kelly /react-text  
I saw this woman every day I was at staging and I often wondered if she slept. Always very willing to help and do what she could for everyone.
The guys running the BBQ were non stop as well. Thank you for your support. It didn't go unnoticed and was very appreciated.

Catherine Bonner /react-text This gal fed my hubby, Rob Bonner and the boys in the middle of the night. She slept on a cot and wouldn't leave making sure everyone and anyone fighting the fire were fed any time, day or night. What a woman!

Emmy Hoover /react-text Thank you so much for taking care of my brothers and sisters out there. You have no idea how loved and appreciated you really are. I don't even need to ask them to know. God bless you and all you do for them. You have a heart of gold sweet lady!

Ian Husband /react-text I met this lady while I was up there helping out. What a wonderful person and what a great thing she did for all the front line people.

Mike Gavin /react-text I had a chance to meet Betty while I was up there she's defiantly a kind soul.

Hi Renee,
Thank you so much for what you did in Fort Mac. I saw your interview on global news and had to reach out to you. I was part of the first group of Edmonton fire fighters to head up north. You made me a sandwich and some watermelon - which was the first "meal" I had eaten in 2 days.

Here is a picture of me (the one you're leaning on) and my crew. We called you out "Fort Mac mom" for taking such good care of us.
Your friend,

Hi Renee, I just want to thank you again for everything you did for us while we were in Fort McMurray,  you kept us going.  I hope you realize what a difference you made.  You are our Hero!!

Cam Priesltey- Cold Lake Fire-Rescue

Mrs Charbonneau,
I just wanted to say, thank you, for your efforts in assisting the Emergency Responders in Fort Mac. As a police officer, I wanted you to know that your efforts don't only impact those fighting fires in Fort Mac. It's a beautiful reminder of how good people can be. There truly is 'honour in service' knowing that people like you are out there. Thank you for looking out for our brothers and sisters in Fort Mac. Seeing the goodness in others makes donning a bullet proof vest and a gun everyday worth the risks.
Cheers and much respect to you Mam, and your biking community, for your assistance with emergency responders working in Fort Mac and the surrounding areas.
Kindest regards,
Sr. Cst. D. Lamont #0164
Windsor Police Service
Windsor, Ont

Claudia Parks Locke Thank you Betty,
You fed & supplied my crew up there & we thought you had just the most infectious personality! You should be very proud of the huge impact you made on so many in such trying times.
Thank you sista!

I was one of the firefighters in Fort Mac. I gave you a hug before leaving but wanted to say thank you again for everything! You are an amazing person for all you do and for smiling throughout the 5 days I was there.

Thank you for the friend add Betty!! And thank you so VERY MUCH for everything you did for us up in Fort McMurray.

YOU were a welcome sight!

Hi Renee,
You were my little angel mama when our crew from Parkland County was there. Not sure if you will remember me and Craig, he needed chew and I needed gum
wink emoticon
We worked a lot of hours with very very little sleep and not much food.  You were our first cup of coffee in days.  I wanted to send you a shirt off my back if you will allow, just need an address to send or drop it off to.  In the fire service we like to share Tshirts with each other as a sign of brotherhood/family, I would like to give you one of mine to welcome you to our family.  Please let me know.  Thank you again, you were a wonderful warm sight for many tired eyes and bodies.

Jasmine Hale /react-text Very happy to have met you girl!
glad I was able to assist you for awhile when you needed a break before going back to my fueling emergency vehicles. Bless your heart! Hugs!

The photos below were sent to me by Troy and the crew from RapidFire with the following caption:

With Love from RapidFire, We Salute You

Because of a very public thank you made by the St. Albert Fire Department, Hall #3,  on the Current with Anna Maria Tremonti: 

And later by Global, again thanks to that very public "Thank You" from the boys at St. Albert Fire Hall #3!

And now, on top of it all I have been nominated for the Post Search for Goodness Contest:

PLEASE consider voting for me as if I win the $10K I will put 50% towards the building of the wheelchair accessible scooter for CF Veteran Eric Magill and the other 50% to the Afghanistan Monument I am spearheading here in Grande Prairie AB. Please consider voting for me, and if I win, I will spread some goodness!

You can find me by looking up my name - Renee 

In closing off this part of "My Time in Fort Mac",  I want to acknowledge the many people and businesses that contributed to helping me help them:

My husband, Mark Charbonneau, your support as always, means the world to me.

My contractor and good friend, Lynda Klouth who drove her truck and holiday trailer filled with people and supplies.

Costco Grande Prairie for their generous donation to our first truckload.
UFA Grande Prairie and Athabasca for the fuel on that first trip.

The citizens and businesses of Grande Prairie that helped fill that first truck...see the photos on the side to see some of those wonderful souls who helped out in those first hours...

I am sorry I don't remember the name of the Orthopaedic Surgeon's office that donated $360 Cash but I do remember the donation.

Jeremy Hall and Will Skinner - Jeremy also arranged for many supplies over and above volunteering as I did.

Jessica Kappel - a volunteer firefighter who lives in Grovedale and who organized all of the fuel and water the firefighters needed, not to mention her ability to have us on the ground and serving these firefighters and first responders.  Without her, getting in there may have proved far more difficult than it did.

Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, thank you for the discounts you gave us on medical and personal supplies!

My buddy, a man I call bro, Kevin O'Conner enlisted the help of so many:
Garry and his Team from Wetaskiwin CO-OP Grocery Store; Guy & Jeff from A-1 Rentals (without you guys these much needed supplies and food wouldn't have gotten to Fort Mac); Tim & John and all the wonderful members of the Pine Haven Colony (The delicious baking from Jeff's Mother-In-Law); Linda Lee, Tiffany & their Team at Shopper's Drug Mart; Colleen at Value Drug Mart; Insaf & Mahmoud at Guardian Drugs; Paul & Nick at Wetaskiwin Shell; Hans Broere from Broere Electric/A.C. Dandy and all the GENEROUS personal and cash donations from Linda Lee, Jigar, Tiffany, Cathy and Deborah Teske as well as from our own Wetaskiwin Court Clerks & Wetaskiwin Court Sheriff's.

Gloria Swan and her amazing help in supplying 50 air masks and filters.

Nicole from Slave Lake for the Subway Sandwiches and cookies and the Yoga mats and other supplies!

Mark LaFountaine and his lovely wife Tammy - their business is hurting hugely from this economy but they dove in and gathered all sorts of supplies.  Dave Perra from Perra Leatherworks who drove all night and the couple from Barrhead who drove a load of supplies in late one evening.

Kristy Falconer and her hubby Rob and the gang from the Red Knights in Victoria BC and those who helped fill the truck with medical supplies for first responders and donations to evacuees.

Bear Lamont who arranged extra air filters and shipped them up via St Albert Firehall #3.

Steve and the guys from clubs unmentioned for providing all sorts of support to first responders as well as evacuees.

God help me I don't want to forget any one, but I am sure I will so please forgive me if I didn't acknowledge you. My mind is working overtime...
There were a host of people who donated cash, some as little as $15 and others as much as $500 and $1,000.
Special mention to Roy Eckmeier, my Uncle Bob Poitras, Darren Burry and the IOMC, Suzie 7 Gator Healy, Laurie Clark, Candace Lawlor, Terry Hoet, Blair Weber, Nick Newall, Tracy Lynn Schuarart, Allison Hindman Linda Magill, Ray Howland, Gary Adolph, Tracy Nessler, Kim Newberry on behalf of the Camrose Cadets, Jana Rosenburg, Kevin Kurtz, Leslie Allen, Suzanne Kutaj, Bob Ross, Run to the Hills Rally, Holly Sorgen, Neil Hein, Dora DiFrancescomarino....

I hope I haven't forgotten anyone in my circle who helped us out.

Every donation was valuable and needed and I don't want anyone's contribution neglected if humanly possible. On the very good probability that I have forgotten someone and their contribution, please accept my deepest apologies and know it was not intentional.

If you are blessed enough to be riding today, please remember to ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you.

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider


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