Blessing for fleet, 9-year-old Dylan Gold brings Port Clyde community together
880 Port Clyde RoadSt. George Maine 04855United States
PORT CLYDE — Tom Judge, executive director of LifeFlight of Maine and a member of the St. George Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Association, was the second paramedic on the scene Aug. 11, when 9-year-old Dylan Gold of Cohasset, Mass., was fatally injured in a motor vehicle crash on the Monhegan Dock. In addition to Dylan, his mother, Allison, brother Wyatt and Joss Coggeshall of Port Clyde were critically injured by an out-of-control vehicle.
“I took care of the Gold family that day and Joss, who also got hit,” said Judge. “It was the most horrible day for everybody. But, when you have these events like Rock The Dock, which was originally established to honor the fishermen we’ve lost at sea, it’s painful, but it’s important to remember those people in our lives. Memory has to be an active process. Because, otherwise these people disappear into the sands of time.”
Saturday’s Rock The Dock 2013 benefit brought out hundreds of people from all over the Midcoast to honor Dylan, as well as a way to remember others lost in community. One of those perfect Indian summer days, the wharf filled up quickly Oct. 19. There was no entry fee; instead there was a donation jug, in which person after person came through stuffing twenties and higher in.
Standing outside of the tent, Judge looked on at the folks streaming inside and said, “It’s really important today to celebrate the life of this little boy. That’s what his family wants; this incredibly courageous family. This entire community needs to put their arms around each other and say ‘We care about each other.’ And that’s how you mend the holes in the fabric of the community.” See our video of Judge’s tribute to Dylan Gold.
For this event, there were about as many volunteers as there were attendees. More than 2,000 lobsters had been donated and were being served up by local lobstermen, along with fresh corn on the cob and butter. “Go on, take two, take three,” said one volunteer piling up a plate of soft-shelled lobsters.
A long row of tables held an enormous amount of donated homemade food. At one end of the table, shuckers Togue Brawn and Erich Culver cracked open oysters harvested from Virginia and North Haven as fast as people could scoop them up. From crock pots of pulled pork and beans to industrial dishes of homemade lasagnas and casseroles, no one was going to go hungry that day. Then there was an incredible array of desserts...if people still had room.
Amy and Andy Barstow, owners of Monhegan Boat Line, had been originally planning a Rock The Dock event when the accident happened. Like so many others in the community, they were devastated by what happened and wanted to find a way to honor Dylan’s memory. They contacted the Gold family, who gave their blessing to proceed with the event.
Organizers said the event raised nearly $30,000 that day. All proceeds from the event went to LifeFlight of Maine, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit air medical and critical care transport organization and to the St. George Volunteer Ambulance and Firefighter's Association. No one even realized, while Rock The Dock was going on, Lifeflight was already in use that very morning, needed for a motorcycle accident in nearby Thomaston.
”When you think about when things go wrong, the promise of 911 is such an incredible promise to society,” said Judge. “It’s simple, but profound. If you call us we will come.”
“We touch every corner of Maine,” he added. “It’s a huge job. We’re at a point where we need to add a third helicopter, which is literally like adding a third hospital in Maine.
While a live auction proceeded in one corner of the tent, many stopped to add their signatures to an art piece designated with a heart motif for the Gold family by artist Millie Donovan. A few people got up to dance to live music by Country Choir and Maine Rocket and later in the afternoon, Judge, and Monhegan Boat Line family member, Jim Barstow, and the Revs. Randall Thissell and Bill Hickey stood up before the audience to add their perspectives on everyone’s purpose for being there.
As the sun shone through thickening clouds, a crowd on the farthest end of the wharf looked up to see a bald eagle soaring across the sky. Then, Jim Barstow, holding an old iron bell, stood by the edge of the dock. For every name spoken, Barstow rang the bell once in the traditional blessing of the fleet. A flowered wreath was tossed into the slate-colored sea, its loosened petals slowly scattering out with the breeze and the tide.
To all huddled around to witness it, this moment hurt. It was a strange mixture of emotions, both the deep stab of pain in the chest and the relief of being surrounded by a community of people who deeply cares what happens to one another. Watching the wreath float away was both a remembrance and a goodbye to those who have been lost — but to also make sure they never truly disappear.
Anyone who wishes to donate something in remembrance of Dylan, who had a previous flight from Monhegan by LifeFlight, can do so by making a donation to the Dylan Gold fund at LifeFlight of Maine.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org