Kelowna’s skateboarding community gathered together at Stuart Park to celebrate the life of Kaine Carlson-Kirke and raise money for mental health resources on GoSkate Day.
Kaine lost his life to the toxic drug epidemic in July 2022. In the year since his death, Kaine’s mom has taken action in an effort to heal the wound in her heart and prevent another life from being lost to the poisoned drug supply.
Erin Kirke, Kaine’s mom, founded the organization Kaine it Forward, which raises money and advocates for mental health resources for young people.
“If I can prevent even one other mother from having to be in the position that I am, then his death has mattered,” said Kirke.
To date, the organization has raised more than $14,000 through the sale of T-shirts, all of which has been donated to the Dakota Fund for Bipolar Awareness.
With tears in her eyes and a smile on her face Kirke said that right now, there is nowhere she would rather be than at the popular skate spot surrounded by Kaine’s friends and talented riders.
“My son was an amazing boy and all of this is because of who he was. His friends are also amazing, they brought this whole event together.”
Kaine was an athlete, video creator and artist with a kind soul who cultivated a community of riders from all walks of life.
In many ways, Kaine’s skateboard was an extension of himself, and he found solace in riding when faced with challenges. He spent countless hours riding with his expansive network of friends and always took the time to encourage younger or less experienced skaters.
The Kaine it Forward foundation is partnering with brands and community groups to provide skateboards and safe after school programs for youth.
Kirke said that her son left an impact on people all over the world. She wants people and parents to know that “it can be anybody… the stigma that is surrounding drug use needs to change. Our policies need to change.”
She added that she hopes that events, like the Go Skate Day celebration can help to break down barriers, reduce stigma and shine a light on the resources that are required to help people impacted by substance use.
“Our community and our kids need help.”
To learn more and donate to Kaine it Forward visit kaineitforward.com.