A barbecue was held in an east-end Toronto park on Wednesday to raise money for a scholarship in honour of a woman killed in a mass shooting that rocked the city a month ago.
Eighteen-year-old Reese Fallon was killed when a gunman shot at pedestrians and restaurant-goers on Toronto’s bustling Danforth Avenue the night of July 22. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis also died in the violence, while 13 people were injured. The shooter, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, was also found dead in the area.
Organizers of Wednesday’s barbecue said they expected more than 1,000 people to attend the event at Bob Action Park, just a five-minute walk from where Fallon went to high school at Malvern Collegiate Institute.
The money raised will go to the Reese Fallon Scholarship Fund and the Fallon family, organizers said. Fallon had just graduated high school and was set to study nursing at McMaster University in Hamilton starting this fall. The scholarship will go each year to a graduate of Malvern Collegiate who is entering a nursing program.
By early Wednesday evening, people from across the city had begun trickling into the park, where tables were filled with gift bags for raffle and auction. Organizers also ran an online auction, selling such as a guitar signed by the Sam Roberts Band and VIP tickets to a Toronto FC soccer match.
Julie Steel, a family friend of the Fallons who organized the barbecue and started a crowdfunding page to raise money for the scholarship, said she was blown away by the donations received.
“It means a lot to the family,” she said. “They want to make sure she’s not going to be forgotten.”
Steel said they were just a few hundred dollars away from their $75,000 goal as of Wednesday evening.
Denise Swing said she volunteered at the barbecue because she has known the Fallon family for years.
The teen’s death has “left a huge hole,” she said, adding her son is the same age as Fallon. She said no family should have to go through the rest of their lives without their 18-year-old.
“I hope they give this scholarship out for centuries to come,” she said, calling the fund a beautiful way to support another student and remember Fallon’s aspirations.
Christina Strait, who also attended Wednesday’s event, said she has also known the Fallon family for years, and the family “has been stunned by the outpouring.”
She said Fallon would have really liked that a scholarship was set up.
“It’s a wonderful way to spread love,” said Strait.
Fallon died while enjoying a night out with friends, including members of the Young Liberals political organization. In an obituary, family members said the teen would be “deeply missed but not forgotten.”