On the surface, it sounds like something out of a dream. A story meant for television, rather than reality.
Golden native Kamber Lindenbach, a beautiful former fitness model who combined a winning smile with a determined attitude and a bright, positively infectious personality to earn everything she had in life was set to marry her soulmate, Wayne Stertz, whom she met at a gym. The private ceremony was to take place at the top of Mt. Assiniboine, with only the pilot and the marriage commissioner to accompany the pair on the helicopter trip to one of the Canadian Rockies’ most famous peaks.
Only days away from what would have surely been a magical wedding, Lindenbach’s remarkable story came to an end following a tragic boating accident last weekend on McGregor Lake near Vulcan, Alta. The accident also claimed the life of her soon-to-be husband.
Truthfully, Lindenbach’s life wasn’t perfect. Beneath all the smiles lay a series of events that might have knocked a lesser individual out cold.
A serious car accident 12 years ago left her with severe injuries, some of which persisted for the rest of her life. Then, in 2011, her older brother Collan, with whom she shared an intense love of the Calgary Flames, died suddenly under tragic circumstances.
How she maintained such a positive, optimistic outlook throughout her 36 years is a bit puzzling to even her own mother, but she did so nonetheless, choosing positivity over bitterness and doing it with an enthusiasm that drew others towards her.
“She just had a very strong will to conquer things…she didn’t let anything hold her back,” Irene Kohalyk, Lindenbach’s mother, recalled.
While living in Calgary, Lindenbach had a roommate who also provided her with a great deal of inspiration. Kohalyk believes this friend played an important, inspiring role in her daughter’s life.
“This girl was terminally sick…and lived with Kamber up until nearly the end so Kamber was somewhat of a caretaker. She just learned to appreciate what she had in life from this girl,” Kohalyk said.
Already very health-conscious, Lindenbach got even more serious about her fitness following her accident, leading to appearances in numerous fitness magazines and to a career as a personal trainer. She was always encouraging towards her clients, making this an ideal career path, and she ran a Facebook page called Kamber’s Fitness Girlz that has nearly 2,000 page likes.
“She just loved to see people improving…She was known for being a hard-ass,” Kohalyk said with a smile.
“But they loved her for it.”
It often went beyond fitness with those she worked with, and Lindenbach was remarkable in the way that she developed friendships with the individuals that she coached.
“They just felt free to talk to her. Everyone just felt at ease with her,” Kohalyk said.
Among Lindenbach’s numerous close friends was local nurse Christine Svendsen.
“She was a really good friend to everybody that she knew. She was very funny and smart…she made everybody feel important to her,” she said.
Svendsen met Lindenbach in kindergarten and the two had been friends ever since, staying close even after the latter moved to Calgary.
After kindergarten, Svendsen and her family moved south to Invermere for a year, but that didn’t keep them from remaining close during her time away from Golden.
“We were seven years old and she sent me letters and that kind of goes to show… She’s just always been a really good friend,” she said.
Even with a busy schedule and such a large multitude of friendships, Lindenbach always found time for family, calling her mother at least once a week. When she was getting ready for her first marriage, Lindenbach made a point to invite her mom along to pick out her wedding dress.
“She knows I’m absolutely clueless fashion-wise but she just wanted me to be part of it…this was her special time and she was thinking of me.”
A small, private service will be held for Lindenbach and Stretz on Thursday, Aug. 13, on what was to be their wedding day. Later that evening, a celebration of life will be held at the Deerfoot Casino in Calgary. All of Kamber’s extended friends and family are encouraged to attend.