Thanks to a grieving mother in Texas and a single sticker, a Kindersley, Sask. mom has found a way to ensure her late son still lives on.
"In his 17 years of life, he lived more than most adults," said Connie Volk of her late son, Riley.
One day after his seventeenth birthday, Riley Volk was driving home, west to Kindersley, on Oct. 20, 2013. He attempted to pass the car in front of him on a stretch of Highway 7 nearby McGee, Sask.
As he pulled out into the oncoming traffic lane, he saw he had no time to get out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, Connie said. He died from the head-on collision he had with that vehicle. His friend who was traveling with him, Jared Thornton, was left a quadriplegic.
A model citizen, remembered
After Riley died, Connie began to learn how strong of an impact her son had on Kindersley. She found herself meeting business owners, Riley's classmates and classmates' parents in Kindersley, all of whom had a story to share about how Riley had touched their lives.
Connie was hearing some of these stories for the first time.
"I received so many visitors [after Riley's funeral], and so many people came with support for me and my family. I heard so many stories about Riley that I didn't even know," Connie said.
By way of a condolence card given to her, Connie met the parents of a girl in Grade Eight who was being bullied. Riley helped her overcome that situation.
Connie was touched by her young son being strong a role model. He was president of his school, captain of the school football team and a junior councilman.
His mom decided to honour him and keep his memory alive.
Stickers and Riley's travel bug
If it wasn't for their similar losses, Connie Volk and Donna Wilson might never have met.
Donna Wilson lives in Texas. Her 21-year-old son, Trevor, died after a motorcycle collision. She too was devastated.
It was through the Facebook page of the support network Compassionate Friends that the two moms connected. Connie had made up some commemorative stickers for her late son, to honour his love of traveling. Donna had made a commemorative bracelet for Trevor.
The two moms exchanged each item.
From there, things took off. After connecting with other parents on the Compassionate Friends Facebook page, Connie sent out more of Riley's stickers.
"If not for other mothers, I don't know how we would do it." - Donna Wilson
She now gets requests from complete strangers who want to take Riley's sticker with them on their travels, she said.
She estimated that Riley's stickers have been to dozens of countries, and that she has sent out more than 200 stickers.
Both Volk and Wilson know how much their support network means to them. Volk is working to ensure her admirable son isn't forgotten. Wilson wants a support network to help her with her loss.
"If it wasn't for having connection with other mothers that are feeling the same thing, we would probably all go crazy. Because, no one, no one at all, knows how another mother feels," Wilson said.
"If not for other mothers, I don't know how we would do it," she said.