Students raise funds for a tribute to fallen classmate

Grad ceremonies to include remembrance of Nolan Handley

Greater Trail grads are reminded how precious life is as they move through their final days of school with the hallways of their high school feeling a little emptier.

Their classmate, 17-year-old Nolan Handley, was taken far too young this spring when he succumbed to his injuries at the Kelowna General Hospital April 9 following a serious car accident.

It has been difficult for many to accept this loss and as a result his friends have been selling memorial bracelets in hopes of raising enough funds to purchase a memory bench in Handley’s name.

“He was a close friend; he was always the one to make you smile when you were having a bad day and he had a good sense of humour,” said Grade 12 student Katelyn Kurulok, who along with classmate George Hogarth are behind selling the bands.

The items have various messages including “Sup Nol?” and “Nolan Handley 1996-2014.”

“It’s nice to do things for him because he’d want us to be celebrating his life, not just mourn it.”

To date, the teens have raised about $700 toward the $1,500 city bench that is hoped to be placed in a recreational facility in Trail.

This is fitting as Handley was well known in the sporting community and playing a variety of sports.

If a given a choice, his mother Natalie Handley would like to see the bench placed in the Trail Memorial Centre because “his passion and his heart were definitely in hockey” but he was also an avid baseball player, golfer and fisherman who frequented the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre daily.

Natalie is amazed at the efforts of his class and is feeling very overwhelmed by just how many lives her son touched.

“I don’t know if there is ever going to be real closure on it,” she said. “But it’s really great to see the kids and that they are such a tribute to him. It’s amazing the things they’ve done.”

Beyond the fundraising underway, the teens have built a hut down at Nolan’s favourite fishing hole, where his friends and family visit regularly and most recently held a candlelight vigil.

Nolan will be recognized this weekend during grad festivities when “In Memory of Nolan Handley” will accompany his baby and grad picture during a slideshow.

He will also live on under a new Crowe scholarship. Those wishing to honour his name, may contribute to the (Nolan Handley) trust account that can be accessed at any Kootenay Savings Credit Union branch.

“It hasn’t been the same for a lot of the students,” said Grade 12 student Eric Gonzalez. “People have been dealing with it differently but overall it’s been tough, I guess for some kids more than others.

“I can’t explain Nolan in a couple words.” he added. “He was trouble maker, in a good way, who really valued his friends and lived his life to the fullest.”

Through these efforts, his friends have found some closure and a chance to say goodbye. They will do just that this weekend when they toss their grad cap in the air or raise a glass in his honour.