NORTH CREEK - The second annual "Waynestock" will be held on Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Ski Bowl Pavilion in North Creek.
Waynestock was founded last year, previously held on Aug. 12, to benefit Wayne "Wayno" Bukovinsky and family of North Creek. Bukovinsky was seriously injured last April in a motorcycle accident on Golf Course Road near Cronin's Golf Course in Warrensburgh. After being airlifted from Cronin's, he was in a coma for three weeks, and his friends and family did not know if he would make it through that critical time. But he did make it, and has achieved a miraculous recovery since then, something his friends and family attribute to his remarkable will power and inner strength.
"Last year he was still in a wheelchair, unable to walk, just starting to get his speech back. Now he's doing well walking with a cane and speaking very fluently. He's back to enjoying life," said friend Steve Studnicky. "To watch his progress has been nothing short of amazing. For weeks on end we didn't even know if he would survive, let alone how he would recover. Just watching where he was to where he is now, I think that type of accident would have taken the life of most, but he has this strength, stamina and inner will. I would honestly expect nothing less of him; that's just his character."
And he is still making progress, Studnicky said.
"The doctors didn't think he'd be at this point." commented Bukovinsky's son Brian. "It's a very slow process, and he's still recovering. After a year, they think that the most major progress is made by that point, but he's still improving. It feels like he's making improvements every week still. It's all about his attitude."
Bukovinsky's friends and co-workers at his former place of work, Creative Stage Lighting in North Creek, refer to his character in regard to his amazing recovery, and look forward to having him back on the job.
"He used to be one of our lead crew chiefs; he's been with us for over 10 years. Whenever there's a show, people ask for him by name. We're looking forward to the day when he can come back and work 40 hours a week," said co-worker George Studnicky Jr.
Bukovinsky's accident shook the whole community, and many wanted to do what they could to help. Insurance would not cover all of the costs of his medical needs, and due to the nature of his injuries and the extensive time and treatment that he would require to recover, his friends knew that he would need extra help to get though this uncertain time.
Thus Waynestock was born.
Studnicky, who has been a lifelong friend of Bukovinsky's, knew he had to step up to the plate and gather the community together for this cause. Together with the North Creek Fire Department and the other Johnsburg fire departments, and numerous friends and family members, Studnicky brought the idea for Waynestock to life.
"North Creek Fire had ideas, I had ideas, all the fire companies came together from Johnsburg and put in manpower, every department donated funds. They did 100 percent of the food, so proceeds from the food went directly to his cause," said Studnicky. "I put in quite a bit of time gathering donations. We had bands all day long, which Creative Stage Lighting was willing to put together; before we knew it, we had enough entertainment to last 10 hours. We had 50-50 raffles all day long, and an auction that went to all the local businesses for; we got gift certificates, merchandise, cash, etc. Everyone was very willing to give, so many people contributed. Everybody just pitched in whatever they could give."
This year's Waynestock, "Waynestock II" will be held in similar tradition, with good food, good friends and plenty of entertainment. According to Studnicky, Bukovinsky has set up a large portion of this year's benefit himself. And instead of funding the Bukovinsky family, this event will benefit other families who have experienced such hardships.
"Wayne put forth a lot of momentum for this year. We are going to become a not-for-profit organization called 'North Country Hardship Fund,' and all the donations for this year will go toward helping families in similar situations to the Bukovinsky's. This is Wayne's way of giving back," said Studnicky. "We are working through the process of making decisions on what will qualify people for the fund. We will probably have an application and closely look at it; we are putting a team of seven together to do that. It's still new to us and we are still making finite decisions. We are kind of leaving it open as to what we'll look at, it could be numerous things; accidents, illness, or fires."
Last year, the benefit was able to raise into five figures, and this year those involved hope to see the same success. The event is open to the public at no charge, but attendees are encouraged to give what they can. There will be auctioning and raffles all day, and entertainment from noon on. A special highlight of the day will be the marriage of Erika Bukovinsky, Wayne's daughter, which will take place during the benefit.
A tightly knit community coming together to help a well-loved friend seemed to be the recipe that spelled success for Waynestock I: that same spirit is expected to surround Waynestock II.
"It's impossible to sum Wayne up in a word. He's your friend, he's there for you in every facet, he's always been there for people. He's a giver; the whole family is," said Studnicky. "You look at where we live, and the people have a reputation-they always come together to take care of each other. That's one of the fantastic things about our community. And Wayno has so many avenues; he's got his motorcycle family, his theatrical family, his firefighter family, and his family family."
Studnicky confessed that its been quite a journey since that fateful day last April, but said his friend has achieved countless victories along the way.
As he summed it up in one sentence..."He's come a long, long way in the last 15 months, and he's still Wayno."