in memory of sara nielsen
the lee ridge wildcats
Sara Nielsen was somebody who made a lasting impression on everybody who knew her. from her family, to her circle of friends, to her colleagues, her students, and the kids she coached.
“She was super funny, super caring, so engaging,” remembers Laura Sinclair. One of Nielsen’s best friends since university, Sinclair bonded with her through their pursuit of education degrees, sharing a soft spot in their hearts for children.
“When you spent time with her, you felt like you were the most important person in the world and you had 100% of her attention. She was just the best friend, the best sister, the best daughter.”
However, December 30th would bring a heartbreaking turn of events; as Nielsen had passed away unexpectedly. The devastating news spurred Sinclair to do something to remember Nielsen by. After giving it some thought, Sinclair decided to launch a GoFundMe campaign, which would crowdfund a sponsorship of the Lee Ridge Free Footie teams in Nielsen’s memory.
“Sara was so involved with it at Lee Ridge Elementary School… It was the perfect organization to remember her legacy.”
The Lee Ridge Elementary School teacher had been involved in soccer her whole life, and was eager to join Lee Ridge’s Free Footie team as a coach, a privilege that she enthusiastically carried out for two seasons.
“I took some time to figure out what I wanted to do to honour her, and honour her legacy… To really connect her passion for teaching with her passion for soccer, and do something that would benefit both of those passions of hers. And that’s how this Free Footie fundraiser campaign came to life.”
Sinclair reached out with her idea to Lee Ridge Elementary, as well as Free Footie founder Tim Adams. She then set up a GoFundMe page, complete with a short introduction video filmed by Sinclair herself, and what Sinclair believed to be an ambitious goal of raising $4000 in one month. By the time she had ended the campaign, Sinclair had raised $8000, and both of Lee Ridge’s Free Footie teams were sponsored in Nielsen’s name.
Sinclair also helped design a logo for the newly-dubbed Lee Ridge Wildcats. Their dark blue jerseys now include the image of a cat sitting on a mountain peak, watching over a mountain range. Sinclair designed it with Nielsen’s love of both cats and the Rocky Mountains in mind.
“At the end of the day, I’m just so grateful that I had friends and family, and friends of friends, and strangers really come together to support this campaign,” said Sinclair.
While Nielsen can no longer appear at the games, Sinclair has gone to support the Wildcats, and says “I lost Sara, and I really wish she could be here to see this, and I know that she would be so proud.”
“These kids are so stoked, and they’re having the time of their life... They’re really just shining out there, and it’s so awesome to see them. It’s so awesome to see the teachers, the coaches out there building up the kids.”
“I just can’t say enough about it, and about how great it is. Yeah, it’s wonderful.”
Written by: Stefan Salegio