Andrew Debogorski, a well-known and much-loved Yellowknife resident, passed away on Friday evening in a house fire according to his father.
Alex Debogorski, Andrew’s father, said Andrew’s wife, Myriam, and their two children were safe.
“I do not know any more than this at this time but I would ask for prayer for his family and for my own family,” Alex wrote on his public Facebook page.
Yellowknife crews were called to a fire at around 9pm – believed to be at Andrew’s house on 51A Avenue.
Andrew was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in June 2017. The disease, which cannot be cured, kills neurons controlling muscles, and can cause difficulty speaking, swallowing, and breathing.
Already one of the city’s best-known residents as a lifelong Yellowknifer and son of Ice Road Truckers TV star Alex, Andrew’s profile grew further in the past 18 months as he fought the condition.
He wed his partner, Myriam, in April of this year after the two became engaged during a Hawaii vacation in October 2017.
“This moment is one I will always hold in my heart and I thank God for every day,” Myriam recounted to the ALS Society of Alberta after the ceremony.
“Andrew said the entire day had been like a ‘fairytale,’ and continuously went on about how much he had enjoyed it. It’s only through the love and devoted support of our family, friends, and community, that we were able to make this day happen.”
‘A rare and unique individual’
All the while, the extended Debogorski family worked tirelessly through a series of fundraisers to find the funds for Andrew’s growing medical needs.
Most recently, a fundraising gala in October and associated events raised more than $48,000 toward care for Andrew.
“His need are really high. He needs help to do everything,” Andrew’s sister, Julaine, told Cabin Radio in November, as the family began to seek a full-time carer.
An online fundraiser set up back in 2017, as Andrew first learned of his condition, made plain the nature of the road ahead of him.
“Andrew is in serious trouble,” the GoFundMe page read. “His health is fading rapidly and we simply don’t, here in the extreme north, have the facilities or professional base to diagnose or treat Andrew’s condition.
“A lot of travel is going to be required between Yellowknife and southern Canada as well as the United States in order for him get the help he needs. As well, he will undoubtedly need help paying the bills at home as he travels to find answers that could save his life.”
The page added: “Those of you that know Andrew can vouch for the fact that he is a rare and unique individual that has so much potential to reach in all his varied endeavours, the kind of which could change the world for the better.”
“A tragedy has struck our neighbours,” Julie Green, the MLA for Yellowknife Centre, wrote following the fire.
“Yellowknifers have been so generous to community members in need. I know we’ll come together to lift up this family and help them in any way we can.”