In the wake of an unimaginable loss, the Calgary community has come together in a touching display of compassion and solidarity, extending a helping hand to a grieving family who recently lost their beloved son.
William James Lloyd Hunt, a 21-year-old Calgarian died in a Billings, Montana hospital, after a single-vehicle crash on July 10.
As a registered organ donor, Hunt donated his heart along with five other organs, saving the lives of six people across the United States.
The medical fees plus the costs to bring Hunt home for his burial were an issue for his family. To help the Hunts, Brian Dang, a close friend of William, along with Sydney Hunt, William’s sister, set up a GoFundMe.
“The idea of GoFundMe actually originated with William’s friends down in Colorado. After his passing, they wanted to start a fundraiser to help the family with the medical costs. We then decided to turn the fundraiser idea into a GoFundMe, which was set up on July 20,” said Dang.
In less than 24 hours, the GoFundMe was more than $10,000.
By day four, the GoFundMe had reached $20,000.
“Along with the medical costs, we thought that it would be a good idea to have any leftover funding to go towards two charities. We decided on LifeCenter Northwest and the uKnighted Fund.”
Donations to help community William lost his life in, and his Calgary home
LifeCenter Northwest is a non-profit located in the United States dedicated to organ donation and tissue recovery.
The uKnighted fund offers free hockey programs to qualifying Calgarian children aged 4-17.
“For uKnighted, we wanted the opportunity to put disadvantaged kids on the ice playing hockey, and enjoying what William really enjoyed in his life: making friends in the rink,” said Jamie Hunt, William’s father.
“It’s so overwhelming to see how much the community has supported us during this. This amount of support and love we’ve had our way these past 2 weeks has filled up a hole in my heart that I didn’t know could be filled up,” said Jamie Hunt.
“I’m just so glad that we can take most of that money and give it away to two extremely awesome organizations. It’s a big win for my son. It’s his way of making a difference and giving back even when he physically can’t right now.”
Honouring William’s memory
Sydney Hunt said that this fundraiser has helped give her family some peace.
“Our reaction to this crazy turnaround is gratitude, just pure, unadulterated gratitude. It shows us that our community extends past our family members. The community extends to our city, province, and even other countries, and so many people from the community have lent a helping hand,” she said.
“Even after he’s left the world, he’s still helping in his own way. It’s really amazing getting to talk about my brother and the way that he’s impacted our little corner of the world. Finding ways to talk about what my brother’s done has really helped make my heart full.”
Sydney Hunt and her family released a tribute website for William detailing his story and his impact.
Jamie Hunt said that William Hunt was called a unicorn by hospital staff, given that only one to two per cent of deaths actually qualify for organ donations.
“By that afternoon, we learned that he saved six people with his organs. We realized that this was extremely valuable, and if we could find a way to help six other people through organ donation again, we would try,” Jamie said.
“It was always William’s wish to become an organ donor, and we want to honour that.”