Family and friends of an accident victim who made national headlines, showed their love and support to him with a Benefit concert in his honour at the Word of Life Tabernacle, Robert’s Arm on Monday, May 14.
Mark Penney, a native of Smith’s Harbour, is one of the two survivors of the tragic accident on Highway 63 in Alberta on April 27. He continues to be hospitalized with injuries resulting from the accident that killed his pregnant wife Courtney, best friends Pastor Shannon and Trena Wheaton and the Wheaton’s youngest son, Ben.
Mark has been reported to have a long physical and emotional recovery, and this benefit concert was held to help lessen the financial burden while he is hospitalized, so he can focus more on that important recovery.
According to organizers of the concert, the Penney family has said Mark is awaiting skin grafts and surgery for his injured foot. They also say that he is trying to get well enough to be discharged and to go home and finalize arrangements for Courtney’s funeral/memorial service.
“He has a long physical and emotional recovery but is doing well under the circumstances,” they said. “It has been a difficult time for everyone but we are trying to focus on his physical recovery right now.”
Mark’s mother, Judy, who is originally from Robert’s Arm, and his father Howard, originally from Smith’s Harbour, live and work in Alberta, along with Mark’s sister, Melissa. Mark and Courtney were married July 2011 and were expecting their first child at the time of the accident.
Guests arrived at the Robert’s Arm church early as a tribute slide show created by Moody Roberts played on the backdrop to the music “I’ll See You Again” by Westlife played softly. The video tribute depicted a much happier time with the love and laughter between Mark and Courtney very evident in every photo of them and other family members. The tribute photos continued to play silently throughout the entire service as various local talent sang and played throughout the service.
Those who were present were privileged to have Mark and his parents via Skype from Mark’s hospital room in Alberta. Mark spoke via Skype of appreciation to the audience for everyone’s support during this difficult time in his life. Mark’s grandmother, Effie Burton, was present at the service and for the first time since the car accident was able to see Mark in person via the video feed. She and her husband, Hayward, have spoken with both Mark and her daughter numerous times on the telephone since the accident but to see him live was a very emotional expereince for her.
Mark’s mother, Judy, with tear filled eyes, watched as her hometown family and friends sang during the event and sent words of encouragement and support.
“We are all overwhelmed by the support we have received from family and friends both in Newfoundland and Alberta since this tragedy. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and we send out a special thank you to the organizers of this event”
A free will offering was collected to offset extra costs associated for Mark as he recuperates and for his parents who have been by his side at the hospital in Edmonton since the accident, away from work and their own home and work commitments. More than $2,000 was collected during the service while the church has received other donations since the benefit concert. For anyone who was unable to attend the benefit concert but would like to contribute feel free to forward your donation to: Mark Penney Benefit Concert, c/o Word of Life Tabernacle, 3 School Road, Roberts Arm, NL. A0J 1R0.