A young Nova Scotia boy's compassion is going a long way to comfort a grieving mother in Conception Bay South, N.L.

Sherree-Lin Kavanagh has never met 12-year-old Ian Reynolds of New Glasgow.

Their bond lies in a photograph of Kavanagh's daughter, Alyssa Davis, 17, who died in a car crash on Dec. 23, 2015.

"I entered a photo contest in memory of my daughter who was killed in a car accident just before Christmas," Kavanagh said Tuesday.

"My hope was that it would win so the prize money would go to her swim team as she was a competitive swimmer who believed in hard work and giving back."

'She needs to win'

The sports photo contest, with a $1,000 grand prize, was sponsored by the Bedford software firm Eyeball.

Davis swam competitively for eight years, most recently with the Conception Bay South Bluefins. She was an active volunteer in her community whether fundraising, helping seniors or working with disadvantaged people, her mother said. She had also completed the Duke of Edinburgh International program for volunteerism for which she will be recognized posthumously.

New Glasgow runner Ian Reynolds

This photo of New Glasgow runner Ian Reynolds, 12, won a sports photography contest sponsored by the Bedford firm Eyeball. He donated part of the winnings in the memory of a teen swimmer from St. John's N.L. (Bob MacEachern photo)

Runner Ian Reynolds also entered the photography contest, sending a picture of himself running in the Johnny Miles Marathon last June.

His mother, JoAnn Reynolds, who is from Newfoundland, noticed Kavanagh's photo posted on the contest site, and found out from a friend back home that the teen had died.

"I told Ian and he immediately said, 'She needs to win. I don't want [the prize].'"

The contestants found out Tuesday that Ian's photo was the winner.

'A bright spirit'

"We found out today. Ian decided that he wanted $500 to go to CBS Bluefins, which was Alyssa's swim team."

Reynolds contacted Kavanagh, who would like to see the funds go to the creation of a swim trophy with a medal awarded every year for "a bright spirit" on the Bluefins' team.

N.L. swimmer Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis performs a ceremonial water blessing before her swim race. The 17-year-old was killed in a car crash on Dec. 23, 2015. The picture was entered in a photography contest. (Submitted by Sherree-Lin Kavanagh)

"Not necessarily the best, but the one who is an active volunteer in the community. They have to have a bright spirit," she said.

Kavanagh said she is deeply touched by Ian's selflessness.

"I thought he needed to be recognized for being so young and so thoughtful."

The Reynolds family is also mindful of the need to give back to the community. Dad Shawn is an RCMP officer and the family regularly volunteers. Ian is a passionate runner and also plays hockey and soccer.

His mother says he has a big heart.

"He is well liked by his peers and loyal to the bone," she said.

"It is nice that he knows there is something bigger than him."