A memorial is being planned for a Halifax woman who was hit by an alleged impaired driver while jogging in Hamilton, Ont. last week.

Friends said Zoë Nudell was an inspiration to hundreds of kids who went through the Nova Scotia Sea School.

Crane Stookey first met Nudell 20 years ago at the school.

She was just 13 years old, but quickly became an important part of his life.

“At the sea school I'm, in theory, her teacher, but it didn't take long for that role reversal to happen. And I really felt as if one of the things I've lost now is there's so much more I could have learned from Zoe,” he said.

Nudell died Thursday, a day after police said she was hit by an impaired driver, and just two weeks after moving to Ontario. She was jogging on a corner Hamilton runners have long said needs better lighting and signs.

Nudell was an artist, a volunteer at the urban farm and a part of Halifax's Shambhala community.

Inspirational captain

One family who knew her for a brief time said she changed their lives.

Laura Martin’s 15-year-old son Nick won a spot in the sea school. Nick, who has Asperger’s syndrome, had never gone away without his parents and he couldn’t swim. His mother was having second thoughts until she met Nudell, the captain of the ship.

Zoe Nudel

Zoë Nudell and Crane Stookey on the Halifax waterfront. (Courtesy Crane Stookey)

“She made an instant, memorable impact on us,” she said.

“She just radiated happiness. To the point where no one else on the ship could feel even the slightest bit down,” said Nick.

He went off to sea with Nudell, but the next day, he found himself in the water without a life jacket.

“I started frantically trying to swim my way back to the ship and I was going, 'Help, I can't swim' and after a few seconds she pointed out that I was in fact, swimming back to the boat,” he said.

The heartbroken family said Nudell was instrumental in building Nick's confidence and they consider that trip a turning point in his life.

Nudell's friend Maggy Burns said she was an inspiration to hundreds of kids who attended the sea school over the years.

“Mostly right now I remember that I got a chance to say goodbye to her because she was leaving the city so I got a chance to say goodbye and a chance to hear her excitement about the next phase in her life,” she said.

A memorial is planned for Tuesday night.