A unique bursary was presented last weekend in memory of a young man’s passion for music and his ability to overcome obstacles.
On Oct 24, 2015, 37-year-old Aaron Peter Olfert passed away suddenly at his home in Penticton of natural causes.
Coming from a musical family, music came naturally to Aaron, first learning guitar and then drums.
But Aaron had what some might call a disadvantage. Aaron had cerebral palsy, which left his right hand physically challenged and unable to hold a guitar pick. But that didn’t stop him.
“To say he was a determined student was a bit of an understatement,” explained Noel Wentworth, vice-president of education at Wentworth Music and Aaron’s first guitar teacher.
“In no way would he accept anything less than what he wanted.”
When Aaron first began lessons, under the suggestion of Wentworth and help from his youth pastor and momma, they created a way that he could hold a guitar pick by wearing a modified golf glove so he could strum. Wentworth said it taught him an important life lesson that just about anything could be overcome with desire and a little ingenuity.
After his passing the Olfert family approached Wentworth Music to set up a bursary to honour the memory and passion Aaron had for music.
Instead of flowers, the family requested that people send funds to a special account set aside at Wentworth Music to provide an instrument to a student in need.
“When he wasn’t at work, he was playing music,” explained Kristen Newman, Aaron’s sister. “To have donations go into this bursary for him meant another young person could carry on his love of playing music.”
By the end of December, with the help of Wentworth Music providing the instruments at family pricing, the amount donated was enough to provide not only a new guitar to a student who fit the criteria set by the family, but also a set of electronic drums to a family of three students!
The bursary presentation held at Wentworth Music had many of Aaron’s family on hand as well as the executive team of Wentworth Music who presented two families this one-time bursary in the form of a Taylor acoustic guitar and Roland TD11-KS electronic drum set.
Newman, who was at the event, explained how Aaron’s music would draw you in, whether he was playing acoustic guitar in the living room at a family home, drums on stage at a venue in Penticton with the Van Horne Trio, or outdoors around a bonfire with friends.
The unanimous sentiment was that they could not have found a better fit than the students they selected for the bursaries.
“We all thought this was such a fitting way to pay tribute to an extraordinary person who’s love of music impacted so many. We hope to see other families and businesses participate in creative bursaries like this in the future,” stated Wentworth.