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Community rallies around family's sudden loss of teenage son

Innisdale student Carson Nicolle, 17, suffered an aneurysm this week and died the following night; 'His life was just starting,' says mom

A Barrie family who lost a teenage family member to stroke on Wednesday is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they’ve received from family and friends.

“Our world has just turned upside down,” his mom, Jo-Ann Nicolle, told BarrieToday. “How do you go on when your heart is torn out?”

Carson Nicolle was finishing his last year at Innisdale Secondary School and looking forward to starting on his honours degree in computer science and technology with Lakehead University at Barrie’s Georgian College campus in the fall.

He had planned to take some time before that to build a computer.

“His life was just starting,” said his mom.

Earlier this week, at the start of his final quadmester in high school, he felt a headache coming on and went to the family’s nearby business, Nicki’s Chicken and BBQ, where his mom had Aspirin. 

But he got worse and became sick. Although he didn’t want to move, his mom got the car ready while his dad Chad, twin brother Carter, and older brother Justin all mobilized and got Carson to the hospital.

He was then transported to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children by ambulance with full lights and sirens.

The family learned Carson had suffered a brain aneurysm, leading to the stroke. He died the following night. He was 17 years old. 

Jo-Ann describes her son as an amazing guy and also something of a joker, spontaneously doing a scissor kick coming out of his room or just goofing around  fun things, as long as sports weren’t involved.

Although born tiny, he shot up to be six-foot-three, but would do anything to avoid sports.

And his cat, Milo, was a feline version of Carson. The two were inseparable, said his mom.

The Nicolles had opened their shop across from Innisdale Secondary School and close to their home in September 2019 as a family venture. Just six months later, the pandemic put a halt to everything, including their business.

In February, school resumed and the Nicolles were able to do business. In the five weeks they were allowed to open, Jo-Ann said word about the food at Nicki’s had got out in the community, among the Innisdale students and their families which all helped.

But like so many businesses, things have been tough.

Family friend Shelley Bridgman launched a GoFundMe fundraising campaign on Wednesday with the hopes of gathering $10,000 to help the family.

Within 24 hours, more than 400 people had contributed, raising more than $25,000.

By day’s end on Thursday, it had reached $27,000 thanks to contributions from more than 430 people.

“It’s been absolutely overwhelming, the amount of kids that have stepped up,” said Bridgman. “The $5, $7, $10 donations have just blown us out of the water.

“There’s nothing during COVID that we can do. We can’t circulate and surround them with love, physical love," she added. "But I think this at least gives all of us an opportunity to express how we feel about them and give back to somebody who has already given so very, very much.”

The Nicolles were already feeling the pressure of the pandemic on their business. But with all that support pouring in, they feel comfortable closing the business for a short while as they deal with Carson’s passing.

“We have the opportunity now to have some time to breathe and not to have to go right back into the shop,” said Jo-Ann. “This GoFundMe, it just came out of nowhere. It’s just so amazing and it’s so amazing to see how many people Carson touched.

“People would see this mop of blonde hair walking toward you down the street. Or his goofy smile coming at you," she added. 

The family is arranging a service for Saturday afternoon at Inniswood Baptist Church with pandemic restrictions in place. It will be live streamed on Facebook. There are plans for a larger celebration of life in the future. 

About the Author: Marg. Bruineman

Marg. Bruineman is an award-winning journalist who focuses on justice issues and human interest stories
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