Bow Valley rallies behind Banff’s Crazy Larry, seriously injured in bicycle crash
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He’s been bringing smiles to Bow Valley residents for 20 years, and now Crazy Larry Melnik needs help.
The Banff resident and community volunteer, known simply as Larry Melnik before legally changing his name, suffered serious injuries in a high-speed cycling crash on Friday, July 25.
By Sunday evening, more than $14,000 was collected in donations from 292 people through a GoFundMe campaign, titled "LOVE to Crazy Larry" and set up by Canmore resident Lisa Rosvold, to help out with costs related to his recovery.
Crazy Larry was riding down Highway 1A when he entered a speed wobble, lost control of his bike, and went head-first into the concrete, friend Erin Lynk said.
"We did attend a cyclist who seemed to have lost control, just inside the Banff Park boundary, just west of the gate around 4 p.m. on Friday," said EMS spokesman Stuart Brideaux. "A unit out of Canmore attended the scene, and the unit transported the patient to Canmore hospital by ground."
Melnik was later transported by STARS Air Ambulance in critical condition to Foothills Hospital, where he continues to recover.
Melnik was one of the first people Lynk met when she moved to Banff in 2006.
"He was driving down Banff Avenue on his bike, and he stopped to talk to the kids, and I asked him what he did, and he said, 'I have fun and I live life,'" she recalled.
Lynk lived in Banff from 2006 to 2010, and was devastated to hear on Friday that Crazy Larry was in critical condition. She donated to the GoFundMe campaign and is keeping track of Melnik’s condition.
Melnik doesn't have any immediate family in the Bow Valley, but he has the towns of Canmore and Banff behind him.
Melnik lived in Banff for more than 20 years, dedicating his life to helping his community and educating kids.
“It’s rewarding beyond belief when you try to make a difference in the world,” he said in an interview with Alberta PrimeTime in 2008. “But if I don’t do it, who else is going to do it?”
Larry is a beloved character in the Bow Valley, said Sean Krausert, a town councillor in Canmore.
"He's a really good soul and he's known by many because of the positive message he puts out," Krausert said. "Larry is very visible at many community events and he likes to make people smile. For example, in the past, as people are waiting in line, Larry will be there and he'll have his big yellow glasses on, and he's entertaining people, trying to get people to laugh. He makes balloon animals for kids."
Krausert said Melnik is known to many people in Banff and Canmore, and they in turn have supported him.
"He's just a good guy and he doesn't have any family in the valley, so I think that's why you see such a positive and quick response to help him," he said. "The Bow Valley has become his family."
Larry would help out at community events, helping wherever he could, making balloon animals or entertaining a crowd. He would always give a smile to those he knew, and to those he didn't know, Krausert said.
"When I was jobless in Banff in 2008 and constantly worrying about whether I would find a job before my money ran out, Larry cheered me up with a balloon animal and some kind words," Alexander Rottboell posted on the GoFundMe page.
Denise Newman, a realtor in Calgary, lived in Canmore 14 years ago.
"I don't know him that well, but I lived out in the Bow Valley and everyone knows Larry," she said.
"He probably doesn't know my name, but he knows my face as being part of the community and he'd say, 'Hi.' I donated because he's going to take some time to recover."