A well-loved Fraser Downs horseman passed away Nov. 29.
Dave Bilyk was a longtime horseman at the Cloverdale track.
Cherie Paskaruk, a horse trainer and good friend, was devastated when she heard the news. She set up a Go Fund Me to help support Bilyk’s wife Cathy with funeral costs.
“Dave was an all-around great guy,” said Paskaruk. “He was very funny. He was the type of guy you could always joke around with. He was a well-loved by everyone in the horseman community.”
She said Bilyk was at the track mostly on weekends because he worked at a full-time job outside the track.
“We didn’t see him all the time,” she added. “But he loved his horses and he loved his family.”
Bilyk’s Go Fund Me had raised nearly half of the $10,000 goal after only two days. As of Dec. 3, $4660 had been raised.
“I set that up so (Cathy) could have some help covering costs. I didn’t want her to stress and worry about money,” Paskaruk explained. “He was the sole provider, in a sense, for them.”
Paskaruk said whenever a horseman or their family is in need, the group always comes together to help each other.
“We had a bunch of drivers over the last two race nights donate anywhere from 25 to 50 per cent of their earnings for the night to Cathy. They’re all heartbroken over Dave’s passing.”
Longtime Fraser Downs horseman Brent Hill knew Bilyk well.
“Dave was a very nice guy. Wouldn’t harm anyone. Wouldn’t say a bad word about anyone,” Hill said. “He was a pretty decent horseman in his own right. I don’t have a bad thing to say about him. He was a helluva nice guy.”
Hill said Bilyk had been a horseman for about 25 years.
The Bilyk family’s fundraising page can be found by visiting gofundme.com and searching “Helping Cathy & family out.”
Bilyk leaves behind his wife Cathy and three kids, two boys and a girl. He was 53.