A Campbell River family’s world has been turned upside down following the sudden death of a father.
Darren Cooledge, 40, a dad to four young children, died Oct. 18 after suffering a brain aneurysm a couple of weeks prior.
Family friend Rhonda Teramura said she immediately wanted to do something to help but wasn’t sure what she could do – or even what to say.
“When I heard the news of Darren’s passing I was at a stage in my grief that I was thinking ‘we have to do something, she’s going to need a lot of help,’” Teramura said.
Cooledge, who worked for T-Mar, loved playing hockey, listening to music, and working on cars, leaves behind a wife, Tricia Savin – his high school sweetheart – and four children – Kate, 12, Nola, 9, Carson, 8, and Claire, 5.
Savin, a nurse, has been off work since Cooledge’s death and Teramura quickly realized the family could use some financial support.
So Teramura started a GoFundMe page to collect donations.
“It seemed like an easy place for people to go and do something,” said Teramura, who noted that the family was well-liked and people were looking for ways to help.
“They are active in the community – you would see them at fundraising events. They did the Walk for Cystic Fibrosis, they were also at every community event. Really, you name it, they were there. The kids are also into various sports and activities – swim club and karate.”
A part of the family even hangs from the rafters at Strathcona Gardens. Teramura said there is a picture of Cooledge and his son, Carson, playing in the pool on one of the banners that hang from the ceiling.
Teramura said that was Cooledge – always playing with his kids.
During summer barbecues, Teramura recalls, the adults would be sitting together, chatting, having a glass of wine, but Cooledge would be out on the grass playing with the kids.
“He’s just a great role model for father’s everywhere,” Teramura said. “It’s very difficult to lose people who are so important on this planet. It’s really just a tragedy.”
Teramura is hoping the GoFundMe campaign will help shed a bit of a light in the midst of some dark days.
“It’s really uplifting to Trish how many people came together to help her and show her how they care,” said Teramura, adding that she’s been overwhelmed by people’s generosity. “I didn’t know what to expect so I started small, with a $5,000 goal,” she said. “I believe in the first 12 hours it went beyond that. After $10,000 I let it go (without a goal) and on and on it went. It’s over $28,000 right now.
“It’s really nice to be a part of a community who wants to support those in the community in need,” Teramura said. “Thank you to the community for reaching out and giving whatever they can, every little bit helps.”
Teramura said Savin and the children are coping with the loss of their husband and father as well as can be expected.
“Trish is a very strong, calm person and she continues to be,” Teramura said. “Life is no longer going to be the same and she’s adjusting to being a single parent. She’s coping, and putting one foot in front of the other.”
Teramura said Cooledge’s death has been a wake up call to cherish every moment and to realize that life can change in an instant.
“If that kind of tragedy can happen to them, it can happen to anybody – your heart just goes out to them,” Teramura said.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Cooledge family can visit the GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/supportfortrish