First-year medical radiation technology students have launched a GoFundMe campaign in memory of their classmate and friend, Matthew Campbell, who died Feb. 21.
More than $1,500 was raised in the first two weeks alone. The money is going to the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation to support scientists examining treatment for mental illness, specifically depression.
“It makes me really proud that people care this much,” said Alesha Sim, one of the students from the MRT program. “It is usually kept so quiet. There is a lot of judgement with mental illness.”
Just days after the memorial service, the students sat in their dim classroom in A-building, quietly sharing memories and stories. There was not one person whom Matthew, barely 26, had not touched in some way.
They remembered his positive attitude and sense of humour. Sim used to entrust her two pet fish to his care whenever she went away. Matthew looked after them as tenderly as if they were his own. He even posted regular updates about them on Facebook – to the amusement of the rest of the class.
“He always complimented people on little things, like ‘I love that nail polish,’ or ‘I like that shirt, where did you get it?’” said classmate Kate Denniston. “He made you feel so special and important.”
The first thing Matthew would say to his instructors as he walked into class was, “You look beautiful.”
If Matthew brought cookies to class, he would offer them to everyone. He took time to invest in others and learn about the small details of their lives.
“He really tried to let you know he cared and to get to know you,” said Abigail Thompson, also from the program.
The whole class chose flowers and X-rayed them in Matthew’s memory. The striking images, capturing the fragile details of each petal, were used on the cover of a card for Matthew’s parents.
“The flowers meant something special to each of us,” said Alexandra Bernardi, another classmate. “That way we got to express what he meant to us.”
The class is hoping to sell the cards in the future to continue raising money.
“It would be something more permanent,” said Sylvie Ferguson, MRT program coordinator.
The broader community commemorated Matthew’s life on March 7. Kelly Funeral Home on Eagleson Road was filled to bursting with family members and friends for the simple, brief ceremony. It was just another sign of the impression he left behind.
“He was one of the most generous people any of us has ever had the pleasure of meeting,” said classmate Samantha Lafferty.
The college’s flags flew at half-staff in his honour.