VANCOUVER - The fundraiser to create a memorial scholarship in honour of the champion ski cross racer killed in a Squamish mountain biking accident has more than tripled its original goal.
As of Sunday night, more than $30,000 had been raised through the GoFundMe page for the Mikayla Martin memorial fund.
Julie Martin, Mikayla's aunt, is the organizer of the fundraiser. She told CTV News Vancouver she's been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by friends, family and complete strangers in her niece's memory.
"My expectations were just the hope that we could do something to keep Mikayla's memory alive and to help to turn her life into a legacy," Julie Martin said.
From the start, the family's plan has been to use the money raised to offer scholarships and support for aspiring athletes, specifically women.
"Her dream was to encourage girls and women in sports, and that is the direction right now that we're looking at taking this," Julie Martin said.
The overwhelming response to the fundraiser means the family will be able to provide funding for more people or for longer periods of time, said Julie Martin. She added that there have been discussions about creating an ongoing charitable effort in Mikayla's name, though nothing is finalized yet.
"That's where our thoughts are turning," she said. "That we'll be able to keep her legacy alive for as long as we expected her to be here."
Mikayla Martin grew up in Squamish and was a member of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, where she was a promising alpine ski racer, according to Alpine Canada. She switched to ski cross after the 2016-17 alpine racing season and joined the Canadian national team in 2017.
In the summer of 2018, she was crowned FIS World Junior Champion at a ski cross competition in New Zealand. This week, she would have been in Switzerland with the Canadian ski team preparing to begin the new ski season, Julie Martin said.
She died last week after a mountain biking accident on the Slhanay trail system behind Stawamus Chief Provincial Park.
On Sunday, Mikayla's wake was held in Squamish. Her father James was overcome by emotion as he described the support he and his family have received from their local community since her death.
He said he hasn't seen the tributes that are pouring in from outside of Squamish area, including memorial hikes planned across Canada and donations from as far away as England and New Zealand.
"I can't look at all the stuff that's going on," James Martin said. "I don't have the strength to look at it right now, but I know it's happening and I really, really appreciate it."
He said his message to those grieving Mikayla is for them not to focus on the negative, because that's not what she would want.
"She would want you to go on and be inspired and continue to do great things and live your life to the absolute fullest because that's what she did every day," he said. "For all the people out there that are feeling Mikayla's spirit, feel it as a win that you got to know her for as long as you did, because that's the way we're working towards looking at it … It was really special to have her in our lives."
Julie Martin said her niece made everyone she met feel like a friend, and she suspects that's why there has been such a large response to the GoFundMe.
"It's an extraordinary thing to have someone like that be a part of your life," she said. "We were so lucky. So many people never have the chance to meet someone like that."