Tristan Gassler (centre top) hosted a fundraiser for his best friend Nico Pike in place of his 10th birthday party on Saturday. Nico remains in serious condition at BC Children's Hospital after being struck on 29 Avenue on Feb. 3. The treasure chest with Nico's photo on it was filled with $255 for the Pike family on Saturday.

Tristan Gassler (centre top) hosted a fundraiser for his best friend Nico Pike in place of his 10th birthday party on Saturday. Nico remains in serious condition at BC Children's Hospital after being struck on 29 Avenue on Feb. 3. The treasure chest with Nico's photo on it was filled with $255 for the Pike family on Saturday.

Pedestrian safety urged for Aldergrove’s 29 Avenue

Parents have created a Facebook page for "Safer Aldergrove Streets" and a petition calling for crosswalks and traffic calming measures

When nine-year-old Tristan Gassler was vacationing with his family in Mexico, little did he know that his best friend Nico Pike had been hit by a truck on 29 Avenue in Aldergrove, right in front of his house.

On any other day, Tristan would have been walking with Nico. The two boys are neighbours as well as best friends.

On Friday, Feb. 3, Nico was walking home from school when he found himself in the path of a pick-up truck driven by a local mother. Nico sustained severe injuries and was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, where he remains.

There has been an outpouring of financial and moral support for the Pike family in this community, along with a growing clamour for improvements to pedestrian safety on 29 Avenue.

“Given the lack of marked crosswalks on 29 Avenue, it’s not surprising that something like this would happen – and it did,” said one mother, Annette MacArthur.

Parents have created a Facebook page for “Safer Aldergrove Streets” as well as a petition calling on the municipality to put crosswalks and traffic calming measures in place on the boulevard, which has heavy foot traffic to and from the local middle and high schools and South Aldergrove Park.

In response Township Mayor Jack Froese and several councillors walked the length of 29 Avenue on the weekend to see it for themselves. The mayor said that Township “staff have been asked to look at the whole street and report on what we can do about crosswalks and traffic calming.”

There have also been police radar traps set up in the school zone in recent weeks.

However, there has been immediate action by Pike family supporters who have organized several fundraisers. One of these has been Tristan.

Tristan celebrated his 10th birthday last Saturday, Feb. 18 and instead of guests bringing him presents they brought donations so he could create a fund to help his friend.

“It was so hard to be so far away enjoying a vacation when news of this got to us,” said Tristan’s mother, Frankie Gassler.

“Tristan couldn’t wait to get home to see for himself how his friend was doing. We’ve since learned the gravity of Nico’s injuries and that he will be in hospital for months to come. It’s devastating for the family and I’m so proud of my son for wanting to help his friend.”

A trust fund has been set up with TD Canada Trust and those who wish to contribute are asked to help Tristan help Nico and his family.

“The boy’s mother has had to quit her job as a payroll administrator to provide round-the-clock care for her son, while being a single parent to his three siblings. I can’t imagine what she is going through and what still lies ahead,” said Gassler.

In the spirit of community, Aldergrove’s Save-on Foods donated Tristan’s birthday cake and the money his family would have paid for it was added to the fund. A total of $255 was raised by Tristan and his guests.

“I can’t thank the community and friends of my son enough for all they are doing to help us through this incredibly difficult time”, said Justina Pike, Nico’s mother.

“Life can change in an instant. It’s the call that every mother dreads and the last thing I need on my mind is the worry of where survival money is going to come from in the meantime.”

Justina’s mother is also helping by providing care for Justina’s children while Justina is at Nico’s bedside in Vancouver.

This fundraiser was one of several in the community for the Pike family. Parents Advisory Councils at Aldergrove schools have also raised considerable sums, says PAC member Tracy Olley.

But it will be a lengthy process before Nico is well enough to be released from hospital and return to a normal life, and the family needs help. If you would like to make a contribution to help Nico’s family, the TD Canada Trust information is: “Nico Trust” c/o Justina Pike, Acct #6361303 Branch 9035.