GoFundMe campaign for hockey player paralyzed in snowboarding accident raises more than $134 K
'It creates a lot of emotion,' says Kamloops Blazers head coach
More than 1,300 donations have been made to a campaign raising money for Kyrell Sopotyk, the Saskatchewan-born hockey player who was paralyzed in a snowboarding accident over the weekend.
Nineteen-year-old Sopotyk — known as 'Sopo' in the hockey community — is a forward for the Western Hockey League (WHL) team the Kamloops Blazers in B.C. He is originally from Aberdeen, Sask.
As of 10:30 a.m. CST Tuesday, the GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $134,000 for Sopotyk's needs, including possible renovations to his home and health-care costs. That number continues to climb at a fast pace.
The original goal of the campaign was $50,000.
Shaun Clouston, head coach for the Kamloops Blazers, said the fundraising effort has been touching.
"It creates a lot of emotion and I think it's hard to describe that emotion right now. There's two sides to it. There's the sadness for what took place. But also it's pretty incredible that there's been that much support," Clouston said.
"It talks about the community, but it also talks about the player. I think it speaks a lot about Sopo and what type of a person he is, how well-liked he was and how big a part of the hockey community that he is."
Clouston said Blazers players are very close.
"[Kyrell's] a real important piece to our team. A top six forward, power play guy, penalty kill guy ... a real big piece of the team. But also a great teammate. A guy that was very well-liked on the team, a guy that had a lot of friends and a player that was very important in a lot of different ways."
Details of the Sopotyk's accident have not been released to the public, but it occurred in Saskatchewan.
"I think it's going to affect people in lots of different ways. I think it is an indication of how fragile things are sometimes," Clouston said.
He said Sopotyk has been in contact with both himself and members of the team.
"With him getting back to me, it really hit home that this is real, and it's going to impact him for the rest of his life and it's going to impact a lot of people," said Clouston.
"We're thinking of them, we care about them and we'll support them and do whatever we can to help."