An 18-year-old Canadian athlete who came to an American college to follow his dream of playing baseball died at the age of 18.
Theo Gibbs died in his sleep on Dec. 30 while he was at his family’s home in Regina, Saskatchewan, according to the Western Standard.
Gibbs played with the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League’s Regina White Sox, the Martin Sports Academy and the Regina Red Sox Academy before making the leap to Lassen Community College in Susanville, California.
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“It’s a great story of a young man who had aspired to extend his athletic and education career and he achieved that. We’re certainly proud that he was able to experience some of that,” he said.
“In the dugout, I referred to him as a ‘top-step guy,’” Cherepuschak said. “He would meet students or teammates at the top step, whether it was to celebrate success or help them through a hardship. His ability to make those around him better and to create a great team in a large group environment was what made him so special.”
The college released a statement about the teen’s death, according to the Leader-Post, which noted he had injured his shoulder in the fall.
“Our baseball program is heartbroken by the passing of Theo Gibbs. We send our prayers and wish his family comfort, peace, and strength as they mourn the loss of their oldest son. Although our time was brief, Theo’s smile and energy was infectious,” baseball coach Frank Avilla said.
Gibbs, who leaves behind his parents and two siblings, also played hockey for the Regina Shamrocks and Regina Cougars.
Family friend Chantel Kaufmann set up a GoFundMe page that raised $49,009 from 555 donors.
“I’m not up on my social media-type things, but my kids told me it was the Number 1-trending GoFundMe in all of North America or something like that,” Kaufmann said, according to the Leader-Post.
“Theo Gibbs and his family have been valued members of many Regina communities including baseball, hockey, teaching, and music. The unbelievable pain of losing this young man with an amazing future ahead of him breaks all of our hearts,” she wrote on the page.
In an update, she said that although the fund was set up to cover funeral costs, the teen’s parents “will use the money as they see fit. Easing financial burden in the days ahead and allowing them time and space to grieve as a family was our way of acknowledging this very sad time and showing them our love and support.”
Dana Gibbs, the mother of Theo Gibbs, said the family was “forever grateful for the love and support shown to us in this time of unbelievable sadness” according to the Western Standard.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us. Words will never be enough. Your love is holding us up. Whenever you think of Theo in the coming hours and days, please pass on an act of kindness and send your love up to him.”
Kaufman told the Western Standard that the number of donations “really shows you the love that people have for his family. It’s a great family that is well respected and works really hard and would do this at the drop of the hat for anyone else. They know that they have helped out in so many ways when people have gone through hard times.”
CORRECTION, Jan. 17, 2023: Theo Gibbs died Dec. 30. An earlier version of this article had a different date.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.