Outpouring of support for family of A.J Cleary

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Memorial fund to aid Newfoundlander’s unborn child, wife, surpasses $50,000 goal

The family of A.J. Cleary, a Newfoundlander killed in an avalanche last weekend in British Columbia, is overwhelmed and touched by the generosity of those who contributed to an online fund to help his wife and unborn child.

Laura Elward is seen here with her late husband, A.J. Cleary of Come By Chance. Cleary was killed Saturday near Vernon, B.C., after an avalanche buried the 34 year old in snow. — Submitted photo

Andrew Spelchan, a friend of Cleary and his wife Laura Elward, contacted the family on Sunday after he heard from multiple people asking how they could help out. Spelchan sought and received permission to set up a memorial fund through the website FundRazr.com.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, over 700 contributors raised almost $60,000, almost two full days after the memorial fund was launched.

“The outpouring of support has been absolutely phenomenal,” said Spelchan, who is from Vernon, a community approximately 50 kilometres from the area where the avalanche occurred.

Elward is pregnant with what will now be the couple’s first and only child. Cleary is originally from Come By Chance and is the son of the community’s mayor, Joan Cleary.

“The family has this site on their cellphones, and they’re checking it steady,” said Spelchan. “Even just the messages of support are extremely appreciated.”

Spelchan was a part of the same snowmobiling community as Cleary, but was not out for the tragic group ride on Saturday. Other snowmobilers worked hard to dig Cleary out from under the snow. Cleary was later taken to hospital in Vernon, where he was pronounced dead.

“We got the calls right away on what was going on,” said Spelchan. “It was difficult not being able to assist right away. Half of our crew was there, and it’s been very difficult for them, because they tried to do everything they could to save him.”

Friends of Cleary in Vernon and the surrounding area have already been quick to help Elward beyond monetary means. Spelchan and others were at her house Tuesday cleaning, working on renovations, and taking care of some yard work.

“She’s got a huge, huge support team behind her of friends and family, which is awesome,” he said.

Spelchan will remember Cleary as a vibrant and genuine person who was always willing to help others.

“He always wanted to help you and anyone around him.”

— Weblink: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/8iPO7

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Geographic location: Vernon

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