The sudden death of a former martial arts instructor in Surrey has kick-started several fundraising campaigns to help his young family live through difficult times ahead.
At home on Easter weekend, Mackenzie MacWilliams suffered a seizure that caused oxygen deprivation and heart failure. In hospital, the New Westminster resident died on Thursday morning (April 25) at the age of 27, said Michael McHugh, who runs Fraser Heights Black Belt Academy.
The man they called “Mac” worked at the studio until a few years ago, when he became an accountant. Raised in the Fraser Heights area, he was a student there in the early 2000s before becoming an instructor in 2007, McHugh said. The two “went up the colour ranks” and received their third-degree black belts together, he added.
“It’s been such a blur, the past week,” McHugh said Thursday. “Mac was in palliative care until today. His brain was gone last week, his body today.”
An online fundraising page has been set up to help Mac’s family, and McHugh’s academy is planning a couple of fundraising events, including a “Kick-a-Thon” on June 29 and a registration-incentive campaign that will fully benefit the family.
“We’re hoping to raise as much as we can,” McHugh said. “Everything we earn, the better, just to help out his wife and young son.”
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the “Support for Amber & Luke MacWilliams” page on gofundme.com had raised more than $36,000 by 200 people in six days.
“He’s well loved,” McHugh said. “He was serious when he needed to be serious but always had a great sense of humour, a fun-loving guy.… He did so much in martial arts, and he also volunteered at Anvil Island, at the camp there, every summer.”
Tributes to Mac and messages of support for his family fill the Gofundme page.
“We know he is with His Savior in Heaven, but this is an incredible loss, especially for Amber who stays home full time with Luke,” says the main story, posted by Carolyn Leanne Béchard on behalf of Shannon Fenton.
“Let us join together as a community and allow her the time to grieve without having to worry about paying the bills. All proceeds raised will go to Amber and Luke as she navigates this storm. For those unable to support financially, we ask that you pray. Pray without ceasing.”