It’s every spouse’s worst nightmare.
Cochrane couple Lacey and Lee Fowler were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary in September by vacationing in Los Cabos, Mexico, when Lee suffered a stroke.
After being rushed back to the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, the 47-year-old father of four young children spent the next 10 days in a sedated coma before the difficult decision was made to end his life-support.
“He was always so happy and had such nice things to say,” said Leanne Parnell, Lee’s sister-in-law. “He was the kind of person that knew everything – there are just people who have all this random knowledge, and Lee was one of those people. I always would go to Lee if I had questions about random things.”
According to Parnell, the stroke came as a complete shock, as Lee was healthy and did not smoke.
He leaves behind four children, all between the ages of two and eight. According to Parnell, the trip to Mexico marked the couple’s first vacation together since they had had kids.
Friends, family and members of the community are now rallying together to support the Fowlers. According to Parnell, a GoFundMe page was set up Oct. 21, with the goal of raising $100,000 for the family. As of Oct. 31, the campaign had amassed more than $52,000.
“I was sort of hesitant about starting a GoFundMe, because I thought, ‘How much is this actually going to bring in and benefit Lacey?’” Parnell said. “Her older brother, Colby, was the one that said we should, and set the goal so high.”
The GoFundMe has seen 489 donors, as of Oct. 31, with some providing as much as $1,000.
“I thought the amount was crazy, but so many people have shared it and donated,” Parnell said. “I just can’t believe how generous people have been.”
The A&W in the Calgary neighbourhood of Auburn Bay held a fundraiser Oct. 29, with $1 from every combo sold going to the Fowlers. The initiative raised an additional $1,300.
Parnell added the contributions from the community will be a huge support to Lacey in her time of grieving, as Lee’s life insurance did not cover a stroke. The funds will be used to help with funeral costs, as well as mortgage payments, groceries and other day-to-day expenses.
“I think it’s really hard for people in those situations to ask for help,” she said. “I think it’s always friends or family who see how much help people are going to need, and set up these kinds of pages.
“It’s so much money and it’s going to be so much help to Lacey and the kids. I don’t really have any words for how amazed I am at the response we’ve gotten.”
Parnell added Lee was an avid storyteller and, as a mechanic, he was her go-to person whenever she had any car trouble.
“I think what people will remember most about Lee was how kind he was, and how great of a father he was,” she said. “He just loved his kids so, so much.”