‘Superhero’ is a word often associated with an all-powerful being in a colourful costume who conquers evil and lives forever.
Chantelle Marcellus’ superhero didn’t wear a cape or bright spandex, but rather blue scrubs. Her hero was her mother.
News of Cara-Jean (Carrie) Koski’s passing struck the Kelowna community in January. The 57-year-old died skiing at Big White Ski Resort on Jan. 2, during her last run of the day.
“She texted us five minutes before this happened and said, ‘I’m killing it, I’m in the trees, I’m having so much fun.’ I think it’s been really difficult for us to grasp that such a strong person, such an experienced skier, could disappear in a matter of seconds,” said Marcellus.
“For somebody who was so giving, who was so loving, who was so attentive to her patients and her kids — especially her kids — (to die) in a tree-well. I think that’s just been really, really tough on us.”
Her unexpected passing has been undoubtedly difficult for her friends and family, especially Marcellus, who was inspired by her mother to become a nurse.
However, the Kelowna woman is working to ensure her mother is honoured. Next month, she will set out on a journey to heal and raise awareness about her mother’s biggest passion: helping others.
“I sat down and thought, ‘I need to figure out a way to make things positive.’ I thought about reading, I thought about journaling, I thought about different things. Then I just said, ‘Nope, I’m going to go for a walk, a really, really long one.’”
On April 30, coinciding with her mother’s birthday, Marcellus will be setting out on a 123-kilometre cycling and walking journey from Penticton to Vernon, using hospitals as her landmarks. She will be travelling on the KVR trail, a trip that she had planned on doing with her mother but didn’t get a chance.
Koski was known as a passionate member of the Moms Stop the Harm group, which she became involved in after her son died of an overdose in 2016. Thus, her daughter has launched Carrie’s Cause, a fundraiser which will help fund a youth treatment facility in Kelowna. This project is being led by The Bridge Youth and Family Services.
“This happened so incredibly fast. We never had an opportunity to tell her how much we love her. And we didn’t have an opportunity to thank her… donating to this cause, I think, a cause that she was so passionate about, would be phenomenal,” said Marcellus.
She explained that a lot was taken away from her mother throughout her brother’s addiction and after losing him.
“I think a youth treatment facility would be something that she would have built with her own hands if she could have,” she said.
Marcellus encourages the community to set out a candle or purple ribbon on the day of her journey to wish Koski peace and honour the strongest woman she knew. She made it clear her choice to pass by every hospital is strictly to honour her mother and is not in any way affiliated with Interior Health. She discouraged gatherings of any kind at the hospitals.
If travel restrictions ease by the end of April, Marcellus’ brothers, who currently live on the coast, will join her on her journey.
Those who can are encouraged to donate to Carrie’s Cause online here: weblink.donorperfect.com/carriescause.
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