Theo Gibbs: Athlete, 18, who had big baseball dreams dies unexpectedly in sleep, GoFundMe donors help family
REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN: An 18-year-old athlete from Canada unexpectedly died in his sleep. Theo Gibbs, who attended Lassen Community College with the aim of playing his favorite sport at the college level died in his sleep on Friday, December 30, while he was at his family's home in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before transferring to Lassen Community College in Susanville, California, Gibbs played baseball with the Regina White Sox of the Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League, the Martin Sports Academy, and the Regina Red Sox Academy.
Rob Cherepuschak, the learning leader at Martin Sports Academy, told the Regina Leader-Post that Gibbs was a great athlete and person. “It’s a great story of a young man who had aspired to extend his athletic and education career and he achieved that. We’re certainly proud that he was able to experience some of that,” he said. “In the dugout, I referred to him as a ‘top-step guy,’” Cherepuschak said. “He would meet students or teammates at the top step, whether it was to celebrate success or help them through a hardship. His ability to make those around him better and to create a great team in a large group environment was what made him so special,” he added.
Following the teen's death, the college said in a statement that he had suffered a shoulder injury during the fall. “Our baseball program is heartbroken by the passing of Theo Gibbs. We send our prayers and wish his family comfort, peace, and strength as they mourn the loss of their oldest son. Although our time was brief, Theo’s smile and energy was infectious,” baseball coach Frank Avilla said. Gibbs also played hockey with the Regina Shamrocks and Regina Cougars.
A GoFundMe campaign launched by a family friend, Chantel Kaufmann, raised $49,000 from 555 contributors. “I’m not up on my social media-type things, but my kids told me it was the Number 1-trending GoFundMe in all of North America or something like that,” Kaufmann said. “Theo Gibbs and his family have been valued members of many Regina communities including baseball, hockey, teaching, and music. The unbelievable pain of losing this young man with an amazing future ahead of him breaks all of our hearts,” she wrote on the page.
In a follow-up post, she revealed that although the fund was set to pay for funeral expenses, the teen's parents “will use the money as they see fit. Easing financial burden in the days ahead and allowing them time and space to grieve as a family was our way of acknowledging this very sad time and showing them our love and support.” Dana Gibbs, the mother of Theo Gibbs, said the family was “forever grateful for the love and support shown to us in this time of unbelievable sadness” according to the Western Standard. Gibbs is survived by his parents and two brothers.