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Celebration of life held for Calvin Kennard

More than 100 Airdronians gathered Sept. 18 to mourn the loss but celebrate the life of Calvin Kennard, who died Sept. 13.

More than 100 Airdronians gathered Sept. 18 to mourn the loss but celebrate the life of Calvin Kennard, who died Sept. 13.

The celebration of life, which took place at East Lake Regional Park, included a memorial balloon launch of more than 100 biodegradable balloons into the sky.

Kennard’s father, Randy, said the event allowed for more people to attend than a traditional funeral service, given indoor gathering restrictions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were so many people who wanted to support us and Calvin, and share in his celebration, that the church couldn’t house it all,” he said. “We thought this was a way we could offer people [the opportunity] to express their condolences and joys.”

Attendees could write a message for Kennard – or anyone else they wished, according to Randy – onto the helium balloons, which were released simultaneously at 5 p.m.

Airdrie RCMP had issued a missing person’s report about Kennard on Sept. 11. Three days later, the detachment released an update, saying the teen had been found deceased.

Randy said the cause of death was suicide, adding the issue of mental health needs to be discussed and addressed more openly in society.

“People need to start talking about it,” he said. “We in our hearts have to live with it, but before he moved on, our whole family interacted with him all week, and it was good.

“There was no pain that we saw. We didn’t see it, and it just happened.”

According to his obituary, Kennard was well-travelled, having been to Europe, the United States and the Caribbean. He was a 2019 graduate of W.H. Croxford High School, and was planning to attend SAIT this year to embark on a business degree, as he was an apprenticing baker.

His interests included rafting down a river, cliff-jumping, shooting clay pigeons and working on modifying his car – a 2011 Audi A4 sedan.

“Calvin loved life and he loved the outdoors,” said Jeff Bell, a family friend of the Kennards, who helped organize and emcee the celebration of life. “He was the kind of person who would give the shirt off his back for someone and would be at the beck and call for anybody.”

The large number of attendees who came out to East Lake Regional Park for the celebration of life was a testament to the effect Kennard had on the community, according to Bell.

“I think it certainly speaks to his impact, probably more than he would have known,” he said. “It’s really special to see this many people out here today, sending it out to him.”

For those having thoughts of suicide, resources are available by calling Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642

Scott Strasser,
Follow me on Twitter @scottstrasser19 

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