In the end, Miles Wohlford gave life to at least a half-dozen strangers.
The 14-year-old Vernon teenager died Friday night in Kelowna General Hospital after his family made the gut-wrenching decision to remove him from life support that was sustaining him following a boating accident on Okanagan Lake June 28.
Wohlford’s family released a statement through social media, stating their son died shortly before 9 p.m. and that “he honourably gave life to a minimum of six people through organ donation.”
“My heart is filled with hope for six or more people that will live a fulfilled life,” said Wohlford’s mom, Randi Lund. “My heart is filled with pride to have been able to call Miles Wohlford my son.”
The family said earlier Friday that “due to a very grave prognosis,” it had made “a very difficult decision” to remove Wohlford from life support.
A memorial service for Wohlford will take place Monday, July 14, at 3 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.
Those planning on attending are encouraged to wear a sports jersey in honour of Wohlford’s love of sports.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that a donation in Wohlford’s memory be made to Greater Vernon KidSport.
Wohlford suffered very serious head, arm and leg injuries June 28 after he fell off a tube on Okanagan Lake and was hit by the propeller of the boat towing him. He was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital.
An outpouring of support and condolences has been sent to the family via the Facebook page “Support Miracles for Miles.”
And that support was evident in person Saturday, as North Okanagan Minor Lacrosse organized a three-hour hot dog, raffle and silent auction at The Sports Store on 27th Street. The event raised more than $6,300 in three hours.
“That was fantastic,” said organizer Jen Bellman. “It speaks volumes about the type of kid Miles was, and it speaks volumes of his family. Miles would have been the first kid there to hold up the signs trying to get people into the event, and his mom would have been the first to organize such an event.
“It also says a lot about the community and how close to home this accident hit. It has affected a lot of people.”
Casey Sherriff had the opportunity to coach Wohlford twice in lacrosse, including the recently ended season with the North Okanagan Bantam A Legends.
“He’s a great person and was looked up to by his teammates,” said Sherriff. “It was easy to get him on the floor, harder to get him off. That’s a trait a coach would welcome in any of his players.”
Community events and fundraisers are still being held to support Wohlford’s family with costs and other expenditures associated with the tragedy.
Anything over and above the expenses will be put towards Miles’ legacy in the form of scholarships for minor hockey, lacrosse and high school rugby.
As of noon Tuesday, more than $17,000 had been donated online at www.fundrazr.com (Click Miracles for Miles under the search engine).
A one-day bottle drive will be held on an upcoming weekend (date and times still to be finalized)with hockey, lacrosse and Fulton students going to area homes to collect bottles and cans.
A drop-off location for cans and bottles will also be set up that day at Craftsman Collision (3500-27th Street).
Accounts at both Chasers Bottle Depot and Interior Freight and Bottle Depot have been established under the name Miracles for Miles. Anybody wishing to donate the funds from their sorted returns can do so.
An account has been set up at the VantageOne Credit Union, and you can donate at any of the Vernon locations. The account name is also Miracles for Miles.
A day of family events has been organized for Friday, July 18. A Family Carnival and Music event will run from 2 to 8 p.m. at Cenotaph Park. At the Elks Hall, there will be a bake sale from 2 to 5 p.m., and a silent auction from 2 to 10:30 p.m. (silent auction items can be donated and dropped off at the Okanagan Science Centre).
There will be an adults-only dance at the hall from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. featuring Vernon band Mace. Limited tickets for the dance are $15 each, available at The Bean Scene.
“These events will provide the opportunity for the community to come together as a group to help each other with the grieving and healing process,” said family friend Cindy Meissner who, along with Rhonda Becker, have been coordinating the fundraising efforts.
Lund said her life has been forever changed, but the outpouring of support from friends, family and the community has touched her and her family deeply.
“I am in absolute awe of my friends, family, and strangers that don’t even know us that have rallied together to get us through hell,” said Lund. “Like many have said to me words just can’t express. Please know that I am embracing each and everyone of you and your kindness and love is giving me strength to carry on.
“Not only do I live in the most beautiful place on earth, I’m surrounded by the most beautiful people on earth.”