Those who knew Jeremy best describe the young man as a gentle giant with a big, joyful, contagious laugh.
This year, Jeremy Stoelting would have been attending his final year of high school in Salmon Arm.
On Feb. 10, 2018, a day remembered by his grandmother as crisp with clear blue skies, Jeremy passed away in his sleep. It was later determined Jeremy suffered from several heart problems, for which he displayed no previous symptoms.
Searching for a way to honour Jeremy’s memory, his grandmother Rosemary Foster heard about a young man who’s life was saved by an automatic external defibrillator (AED) after he collapsed in his school’s gymnasium.
Foster reached out to School District 83 and set the wheels in motion to donate two AEDs to the district.
Initially, Foster intended to donate the devices to Shuswap Middle School and Salmon Arm Secondary’s Jackson campus – both schools Jeremy had attended.
Upon learning that Jackson already has an AED, Foster chose to donate the second device to Carlin Elementary Middle School in Tappen.
“Carlin, to us, was so far away,” Foster said. “If they had an emergency there, that would be the place that should have an AED.
“That’s how we felt about that and I know that Jeremy would have thought that too.”
Foster said that this donation was not only a way to potentially save a life in the future but also a way to assist her healing process following Jeremy’s death.
“If it can help save somebody else that would be absolutely amazing and wonderful for us,” Foster said.
“I hope they’re there for quite a few years and they’re never going to have to be used; that would be ideal.”
The AED donated to Carlin was installed and tested on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Staff were also trained on how to use the device by community paramedics Kathy Crandlemire and Susan Murray.
The AEDs are available not only to students and staff but also to trained first aid attendants or first responders if there is an emergency cardiac arrest near the school grounds.
Rosemary hopes her story will inspire others to donate money to get more AEDs in public places. “There are still a lot of schools that do not have an AED and they are very costly,” she said.
Jeremy was a very active 15-year-old. After moving to Salmon Arm from Calgary in 2015, he got involved with the community straight away.
He attended his church’s youth group and adored his bicycle, which he rode all around town. Jeremy had a passion for mechanics, he planned to attend a trade school in the Lower Mainland following his high school graduation. He also loved to watch Marvel movies and visit with seniors at Piccadilly Terrace.
Dan Steenson, the leader of the youth group Jeremy attended, said he didn’t hear about Jeremy’s visits with seniors until after he died.
“It’s so interesting to me that Jeremy did those things without needing recognition or needing praise from other people,” Steenson said.
With the unexpected nature of Jeremy’s death, it was a heartbreaking moment not only for Steenson but for the youth group and the ministry as well.
Still, Steenson can remember how Jeremy’s laugh lit up any room and how he had the ability to listen and care for others when they needed it.
“What I remember about Jeremy is how fully he lived his life. That was a really beautiful thing that I think people lose out on,” Steenson said.
Along with enjoying classic teenage activities, Jeremy loved school. An important figure in his life was Ken Jamieson, Jeremy’s Grade 8 teacher at Shuswap Middle School.
The pair connected instantly and, even after Jeremy moved on to high school at Jackson, he would drop by to talk with Jamieson about his life.
“He was always among the most helpful and one of the most considerate kids in the class. He was one of those kids that were really easy to like,” Jamieson said. “It’s a really generous gesture on the part of Jeremy’s family to do this, it really helps with the memory of Jeremy.”
Anyone wishing to follow the lead of Rosemary Foster and donate an AED to SD 83 should contact Bev Snow at 250-832-9415.