Memorial fund for Squamish's Mikayla Martin raises more than seven times its goal

Family hopes to help young female athletes

At 22 years old, Squamish's Mikayla Martin was so well respected around the world, that the memorial fund set up in her name inspired donations to pour in from the many who knew her, and even some who didn't.

After the ski-cross racer died in a mountain biking accident on Oct. 1, her family asked for $10,000 to support another rising young athlete. As of Nov. 29, the donations surpassed that goal by at least seven times totalling $71,386.

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The GoFundMe campaign brought in almost $60,000, while the Squamish Breakfast Club donated $10,000. Others donated to the family privately, including some of Mikayla's former teammates who held an auction.

Of the amount raised, Martin's mom Christine said the family "is in shock and in awe. It'll make me cry, it's so beautiful."

Martin's parents are deciding how these funds will be used.

"This whole thing has blown us away," Christine told The Chief. "We thought, OK, maybe a few thousand dollars might be raised and we get to give it out. But now it's gotten so big, we have to determine what we're really going to do with the money and how it can be best used.

"Our motivation is to give money to young females who are striving to do their best in their sport, and loving their sport and loving their teammates."

Martin was a member of the Canadian Ski Cross team and was set to compete in her first World Cup circuit this year. She was known not only for her athleticism but also for her sportsmanship and the love and support she offered others — even her competition.

"When they got off the course, they were all friends. So how do we inspire sports to be competitive, because it needs to be, but at the same time have a real love for one another? That's why people love Mikayla so much, is because she really enjoyed other people," Christine said. "She was happy when other people did well."

At one race, despite having crossed the finish line first, Mikayla waited and congratulated the 30th-place skier.

"Number one doesn't talk to number 30," Christine said. "Mikayla was not that. It didn't matter what you came in, you were just as good as somebody else."

The weekend before Martin died, the family biked to Elfin Lakes for fondue. On the way, she said, "You know, women could be doing better in sports than they are. It's culture that's holding them back." Christine recalled. "She believed that if we can shift culture, more women would get into sports."

It's this sense of consideration for others, and pure passion for sport, that the Martin family hopes the funds will support.

"We realized not only through this fund, and through Mikayla's celebration of life, just how loved Mikayla was and how many people's lives she touched. When we read the remarks on the GoFundMe page, there are so many people we don't know that are either inspired by who she was or knew her and she had a positive influence on their life. That was beautiful to see."

Christine said looking at the donors' names, she's grateful to those she recognized and was surprised by the number she didn't know. Martin's death was reported internationally, and the funds came from around the globe.

On the day of Martin's celebration of life, hundreds attended in person and more than 1,000 watched the livestream broadcast online. That day, the funds raised broke $50,000.

“As hard as it is to think of the reason for the fund, the fact that we can have this memorial and this legacy of her life going forward, it's something that is pretty special,” said Martin's aunt, Julie Martin, who launched the online fundraiser on behalf of the family.

"What kind of person do you have to be to have 700 people show up at your funeral?.... The other side of that that I've thought a lot about since then is what kind of a community do you have to live in that 700 people would take time out of the day to show up at your funeral? It's obvious the community of Squamish is a very, very special place.... I just wanted to say a special thanks to Squamish, and all of the people there who have supported James, Christine, Shondra and our entire family through this."

Find the online campaign for Martin's memorial fund here. 

photo news Martin memorial
In memoriam: 2018 World Junior Champion Mikayla Martin on the podium in New Zealand. - Courtesy the Martin family

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