Rodney Chayko, a Revelstoke, B.C., resident, said people from across Alberta and B.C., including some central Albertans, gave him a new snowmobile at a time when he really needed some support. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

‘It was a sad time:’ Central Albertans chip in to get B.C. man a Ski-Doo

When some central Albertans want to go Ski-Doo’ing in the Revelstoke, B.C., area, they know they will have a place to stay for free.

Rodney Chayko has an open door policy.

Chayko also acts as a guide for free and tags along with people who want to venture out to the mountains. He leads them back to his house, in some cases, when it gets dark.

He is also the type of guy who will get a fire going, so the group is warm and comfortable.

If there is one word to describe him, it is “generous,” his friends say.

To show how much what Chayko does is appreciated, some central Albertans, including people from businesses Redline Engine Performance and Turple Bros Ltd., gifted him a new 2019 snowmobile.

The new Ski-Doo, with a price tag of about $15,000, replaced Chayko’s two older models, which were on their last legs.

That show of appreciation came at a time when Chayko really needed some support: when his wife Joanne was in hospital battling cancer, and he had a back and shoulder injury, which meant venturing outdoors on older snowmobiles was rough.

Dave Sushynski, owner at Redline Engine Performance, in Red Deer County, was one of the organizers of the fundraiser for the new snowmobile.

“We just stay there (at Chayko’s home), and we treat it like our house, and he doesn’t charge anybody,” Sushynski said, adding everyone wanted to do something to put a smile on his face.

Last year, was rough for the B.C. man.

His wife was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago. In January 2019, Joanne’s condition – chronic lymphatic lymphoma – got worse.

She did not go back to work and died Jan. 10 of this year.

In November 2019, Joanne’s cancer relapsed, and it affected her bone marrow. She was in the hospital since Nov. 22 until she died.

“In January, the cancer came back hard… and November is when she crashed,” said Chayko, who was visiting his daughter in Red Deer recently.

“Her immune system crashed, and her body stopped producing white (blood) cells and red (blood) cells,” the husband said.

It was rough for Chayko, both emotionally and financially. It was a time when he had to live “moderately” from his income from being a survivor of the 1986 roller-coaster crash at West Edmonton Mall.

His friends gifted him the snowmobile in December, just days before Christmas, “at a sad time.”

The whole experience did bring a smile to Chayko’s face, but also tears – about two and a half hours worth.

“The guys surprised me with it,” he said of the Ski-Doo.

Chayko said his friends from Alberta and B.C. chipped in for the snowmobile, as well as people from as far away as Ontario.

Sushynski said Chayko is the kind of guy who will “give you the shirt on his back” and one of his best friends.

“It was Christmastime and it was an emotional time for (Chayko’s) family,” Sushynski said.

“He will go to Costco and spends hundreds of dollars buying steaks for everyone. And we are all like ‘don’t do that, you don’t have to do that,’ and he says ‘I want to.’

“The people who are most giving in the world have the most to give, that’s how it is,” the central Alberta business owner said.

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