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Community opens its hearts, and wallets, to families of crane-collapse victims

Kelowna's generosity and compassion has overflowed in the wake of the crane collapse that killed five men Monday at a downtown highrise construction site.

The GoFundMe campaigns for the families of brothers Eric and Patrick Stemmer, Jared Zook, Cailen Vilness and Brad Zawislak have all exceeded their goals within three days of being set up.

The Stemmer brothers, Zook and Vilness were all construction workers at the almost-complete 25-storey Brooklyn condominium highrise at the corner of Bernard Avenue and St. Paul Street.

They perished as the top part of the towering crane broke off while being dismantled and came crashing to the ground, the building's podium and a low-rise office building next door.

</who>Patrick Stemmer, pictured above with his wife, Nakita, and his brother, Eric Stemmer, below, both lost their lives in Monday's crane collapse in Kelowna.

The Stemmer brothers are the sons of Wolfram Stemmer, who owns Salmon Arm-based Stemmer Construction, the company that provided the crane for the highrise construction.

Zawislak was working in the neighbouring office building and was crushed by the impact and debris.

</who>Brad Zawislak, pictured here with his wife Helen Furuya, died while working in the office building next door when the crane crashed.

The GoFundMe for the Stemmer brothers, who were each married with two children, as of mid-day Friday had collected $148,897 from 1,100 donors, surpassing the goal of $100,000.

The campaign for Vilness' family, which includes girlfriend Jaydean, has seen 595 donors pledge $55,274, exceeding the goal of $50,000.

</who>Construction worker Cailen Vilness was also killed as the crane crashed to the ground.

The GoFundMe for Zook's family, including his wife, is at $49,775 from 470 donors, well above the $30,000 goal.

Zawislak leaves behind a wife, Helen Furuya, and two children, Savanah and Zoe.

The campaign for his family has so far raised $115,016 from 345 donors, surpassing the goal of $100,000.

</who>Jared Zook was one of the crane riggers who also lost his life.

Emily Roy, the family friend who launched the GoFundMe for the Stemmer brothers' families, captured the sentiment of the community in times like these.

"Money doesn't fix anything," she said.

"However, it can provide support and self care that these women (the wives of the Stemmer brothers) are in need of."

The families of all five men are expected to use the donations to cover lost wages, travel and funeral expenses and to help rebuild their lives.

Cobs Bread Kelowna is collecting donations from customers until next Friday to be split evenly between the four GoFundMe campaigns.

On Friday, July 23, the bakery will also donate the money from all its sales that day and Cobs head office will also match the amount.

"We realize money can never take away this pain for the families involved," said Cobs Kelowna co-owner Cory Eaton.

"But, hopefully it can take some of the burden for now."

Tonight at 9 pm, a candlelight vigil will be held to remember the five killed.

People will gather with battery-operated candles and wearing hi-vis vests in the 500 block of Bernard Avenue.

The North Okanagan Labour Council will also collect donations to be distributed to the five families.



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