Friends and family are raising money to create a mountain bike trail to honour the life and memory of a 13-year-old Nanaimo boy.
A online fundraiser was created Feb. 18 to raise donations to create a trail or a skills area to memorialize Matthew Jeromkin, who died Feb. 6.
“Matthew was a shooting star with an old soul from the moment he opened his bright blue eyes,” wrote family friend Sharon Little, who organized the Gofundme. “Nothing he ever did was age appropriate, especially when it came to athletic ability. Matthew (or Mattmo according to those who knew him) excelled at any sport he decided to pick up, but mountain biking was his true love. He tore up the trails with his dad and showed the adults a thing or two along the way.
“Sadly Matthew’s old soul was a tortured one and his path took a dark direction. With limited resources for families going through mental health crisis, there was no help for him.”
So far, nearly $12,000 toward a goal of $40,000 has been raised for the creation of a mountain bike trail in the boy’s name. His mother, Chantel Jeromkin, said the family is currently in the early stages of exploring the possibility and costs of building a trail or mountain biking skills area. Jeromkin said the ultimate goal is to build a trail, but such a project is expensive and there are a number of regulatory hurdles to clear, as well.
“So we’re also discussing maybe we could put money into a [session] spot with a jump line and what would that cost, so we’re batting around a couple ideas,” Chantel said.
She said Matthew’s favourite thing to do when mountain biking was to go to a “sesh spot” where he and his friends would stop to practise jumps and drops.
“They would do it over and over again and they’d take videos and take pictures and that was a favourite part about mountain biking,” she said.
She said that sort of amenity – possibly located in an area with easy access for children and their bikes and with a plaque commemorating Matthew – could be a relatively short-term option while continuing to work toward a trail.
Chantel said mountain biking was a healthy outlet for her son and for other children she knows of who are struggling, and said the mountain biking community can potentially help some kids thrive as they face difficulties in other aspects of their lives.
“All these kids are falling through the cracks and it’s awful,” she said.
To learn more or contribute to the fundraising effort, visit www.gofundme.com/f/a-trail-for-matthew.