Memorial garden for late students

By Katie Hobday

A garden at the center of campus is the site of a bright memorial for Joah Atkinson and Brian Collins, two University of Calgary students killed last year in a tragic car accident on 32nd street.

Mary Kelly, a U of C staff member and friend of the Collins family spearheaded the memorial.

“I wanted to find a place to remember the kids that is bright and sunny,” said Kelly. “The grounds keepers have done a wonderful job. We started off with two trees and a bench, but now we have four trees and many shrubs.”

The blessing of the garden took place on the weekend of July 10, 2004, in front of 180 friends and family members–many of whom were in town to take part in a run in support of the new Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Award. The scholarship was established earlier this year by one of Collins’ good friends and fellow rugby player Blake Chalmers, and is awarded to students who demonstrate the same dedication to sports, academics, and community involvement as Joah and Brian.

The scholarship is also a way to celebrate the great contributions Brian and Joah made to the university community through their involvement with athletics and academics.

“Brian always demonstrated leadership, respect, enthusiasm and encouragement to teammates and the opposition,” remembered Kelly. “Joah was a caring, young woman and avid athlete who displayed a true passion for life. Her beautiful smile and contagious charm touched everyone she met.”

Participants in the “Forever Young Run”, part of the Calgary Marathon, raised pledges for the scholarship by running the marathon–the choice of Joah’s mom and uncle–the half marathon, or the 10K.

Joah’s family, who hail from White Rock, British Columbia, gathered so much support that a local bus company donated a bus to transport some 60 runners to Calgary for the big event.

“The run raised $14,000 to bring the ‘Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Awards’ fund to $50,000,” said Kelly. “The first two awards will be presented in fall 2004. Contributions are always welcome, whatever the amount.”

While it was unfortunate these great events took place over the summer when many students were unable to attend, the garden and the scholarship are two ways to remember Brian and Joah.

“We hope Brian’s and Joah’s friends who couldn’t be at the event in the summer will visit the garden, bring a picnic, sit on the beautiful, bright red bench and remember the passion, commitment and fun Joah and Brian brought to their lives,” said Kelly.

A lighted pedestrian crosswalk was installed at the accident site on 32 Avenue and 33 Street N.W. in July.

“The City of Calgary has been very responsive in getting this done and it is really appreciated,” added Kelly.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation to the Brian Collins and Joah Atkinson Memorial Award endowment should contact Jodi Gruman at the development office at 220­-4399 for details.

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