Caelen Michael Lidstone was only 13 years old, but he touched a lot of people in his relatively short life, said family friend Amanda Jenkins.
The teen athlete from Lower Sackville died last Friday in the United States, where he was attending a prep school.
In about 24 hours, family and friends had already raised more than $14,000 on Wednesday toward a sports scholarship to be created in Caelen’s name.
“I am surprised, but we’re touched,” Jenkins said. “I hoped it would take off but I didn’t think it would take off like that, and it’s just been a really huge testament to the community.
“The family has so much support, and yeah, it was a pleasant surprise.”
Jenkins, whose son Zach played baseball and hockey with Caelen since the boys were five, said she and several other moms in the Sackville area got together after Caelen’s death to talk about what they could do for his family.
That’s when they came up with the idea of a scholarship designed to help children who might not otherwise be able to play sports.
The organizers haven’t yet worked out all the details of the scholarship, said Jenkins, but there is talk of holding annual events to help boost the fund.
“We’re all really devastated,” she said. “The thing of it is is that Caelen was so memorable. They called him the ‘Gentle Giant.’ He was six-foot-three. He was a big boy but he had a really, really, really big heart and a huge smile.
“He had just such a presence and just such a kindness to him. He was just so important to everybody.”
Jenkins said Caelen’s family received some comfort after getting a letter from New England Donor Services, which said Caelen had saved at least four lives through organ donation and would help others through tissue donations and research.
A man in his 60s received a double-lung transplant thanks to Caelen. His liver saved a woman in her 50s and his kidneys “gave new life” to two men in their 30s, according to the letter.
“It’s really important to the family that that is shared,” said Jenkins. “They received peace from that, a little bit, and I think a lot of others do, as well.”
According to his obituary, Caelen died in Springfield, Mass. He had been attending Eaglebrook School in nearby Deerfield, where he was on the varsity hockey and baseball teams.
Jenkins said Caelen was already a storied athlete, having hit a walk-off grand slam at a baseball game in New Brunswick last summer.
He was also a strong competitor in hockey but at a recent game in the U.S. Caelen also demonstrated sportsmanship, said Jenkins.
He and a smaller opponent were chasing the puck into a corner when the smaller player pulled up short to avoid getting checked, she said.
Caelen also stopped, looked at his opponent, and then skated off with the puck.
He could have “smoked” the other player, said Jenkins, but he didn’t want to injure anyone.
“He loved competing, but he loved the friendships and the sleepovers and all the fun stuff that came around with it,” she said.
“And I think that’s why (his death) is impacting so many people, because he didn’t just show up at a ballfield or a hockey rink. He didn’t just show up and play the game and leave. He had a lot of really close friendships that bloomed from that, and everybodywho knew Caelen seemed to know him very well.”
Caelen was born in Ottawa and moved to Lower Sackville when he was two, according to his obituary. He was described as a popular and outgoing hockey and baseball player who also participated in football, volleyball, lacrosse and wrestling.
He is survived by his parents Mike and Beren, an older brother Dane, and other family and friends.
A memorial service and celebration of life are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Rock Church in Lower Sackville.
The Bedford Sackville Minor Football Association is asking former teammates planning to attend the service to wear their Saints jerseys, and Jenkins saidshe has been told his former baseball team, the Tri-County Rangers, and former teammates with Sackville Minor Hockey are also expected to attend in uniform.
The service is expected to be livestreamed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg0 3kjvHCSs, according to Caelen’s obituary.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to make donations to the scholarship fund at https:// www.gofundme.com/caelensfund.