Nova Scotia man honors best friend with fundraiser to prevent future tragedies – National

Tears of joy, comfort and hope filled a gymnasium in Bedford, Nova Scotia when a round of applause erupted for a young man who ran 30 kilometers in honor of his best friend.

“The whole event revolved around his legacy and the impact it had not only for me but for everyone here,” said Ryan, after spending hours running on a treadmill.

Ryan’s best friend Kai Matthews had just finished his freshman year in college when he contracted meningitis B and battled the infection for about 30 hours before losing his battle on June 1.

“The fact that Kai died of a preventable disease is simply impossible to understand. So we want to prevent the preventable and help people find out about it and get vaccinated against it, ”said Norrie Matthews, Kai’s father.

Alex Ryan finished his 30 kilometer race with Norrie Matthews by his side.

Alexa MacLean / Global Halifax

READ MORE: Halifax family calls for change after 19-year-old suddenly dies from meningitis

Since losing his son, Matthews has made it his mission to raise awareness of the common and deadly strain of meningitis that is not yet covered by the childhood immunization schedule in Canada.

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“Anyone we’ve spoken to since losing Kai didn’t know about meningitis B, we didn’t know it ourselves and we know about vaccines, we’ve done all vaccines throughout our lives, throughout the child’s life, “he said.

Matthews joined Ryan on the final leg of his run in a one-day fundraiser that aimed to reduce the barriers many people may face in receiving the meningitis B vaccine.

“Some people have to pay out of pocket, for some people it’s out of reach for them, some students, they can’t afford it. It costs around $ 300 for two doses, ”he said.

Ryan has driven countless miles on the road after the death of his best friend to help him grieve and think of ways to prevent further meningitis B tragedies.

“Every time I come, you know, in my head I would just go out and run. And, throughout the process, I was just trying to think of ways to make a positive change, ”he said.

WATCH: Family partners with Acadia University to raise awareness of meningitis B

His selling point ended up being the inspiration for a fundraiser he organized where he pledged to walk the same number of miles as the hours Kai spent battling the infection.

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“Kai’s battle with meningitis from his first symptom until he lost his fight lasted for about 30 hours,” Ryan said.

Ryan expressed immense gratitude to the supporters who showed up to cheer him on and donate to the B For the Kai Foundation.

The foundation was started by Kai’s family and has already changed the life of the college community that the young man was thrilled to be a part of.

“Norrie has spent a lot of time at Acadia. Thanks to B for Kai, he actually just established a new directive at Acadia that all freshmen get the vaccine as part of their tuition, ”Ryan said.

Norrie plans to continue investing her energy in fundraising and raising awareness about the meningitis B vaccine and hopes her journey through grief will help others in need.

“Putting your love into something tangible and positive is what we do and I hope everyone, if they have a similar struggle in their life, can find the power to do it, because it makes such a difference, ”he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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