Hundreds came out on Saturday to Fort Langley, to say goodbye and release red balloons into the sky in memory of two-year-old Johnathen Kleingeltink, who died in a house fire in Glen Valley on Friday, Jan. 24.
The family’s church, the Fort Langley Evangelical Free Church, is overwhelmed by the generosity of the community, who have donated clothing and other household items to the family who lost their son and their home to fire.
According to the church’s Gail Macadam, the family is fully supplied now and the church is no longer taking donations. It has received more than was needed.
“What they will need is financial now,” she said.
The church is doing everything they can to support the Kleingeltink family, as well as organizing meals for them in this difficult time.
The balloon release took place in other locations as well, including Chilliwack, where it was organized by family friend Taylor Davies.
Johnathen’s mother had told friends she intended to release red balloons at his funeral, and the idea spread among family friends.
The fire broke out about 8:30 a.m., when frantic calls came in to 911 that a farm house in a remote part of Glen Valley was on fire and a two-year-old boy was trapped inside.
“The Kleingeltink family experienced a tremendous loss when their house succumbed to fire and their young son Johnathen passed away,” said the church website.
The mother did manage to get two other children out of the house, but two-year-old Johnathen remained inside. The fire spread rapidly with extreme heat, flames and black smoke and many efforts, including from Johnathen’s dad, were made to get inside again.
In the end, a Township firefighting crew braved the blaze to get the boy out, but he was already unresponsive.
The rancher is totally destroyed by fire and the cause may never be known, said Pat Walker, assistant fire chief. They do know the fire started in a bedroom.
The fire department does not yet know if there were working smoke alarms, but it urges everyone to check their own smoke alarms.
If you would like to make a financial donation to support the Kleingeltink family, you can do so at Coast Capital Credit Union, “Langley Home Fire Fund” in person at any Coast Capital location or if you are a member, you can call 604-517-7000 to make a transfer into this account. Donations can also be made at Westminster Savings Credit Union, account no: 453953208.
For further updates, check the church website at flefc.org.
Friends who organized the balloon release asked people, wherever they were, to take photos of the release of the red balloons and take photos for a photo album and Facebook page to show support.
“So far we’ve got people in Australia, Europe, all over the world, who are going to release balloons tomorrow,” Davies said on Friday.
Davies and a few others organized the Balloons for Johnathen Facebook page where people from around the world can post photos of their own balloon releases in Johnathen’s honour.
“They’re doing the best they can right now,” Davies said of the grieving family, “but I know it’s really affecting their older son. He’s only four but he knows what happened and he keeps saying some emotional things.”
“Already she’s blown away that people that don’t even know them care,” Davies said, “but when somebody loses a child, there’s how many mothers and fathers and grandparents out there? If I had somebody releasing balloons for my kid…it would give me a little bit of comfort knowing that people that weren’t even in the situation can sympathize, they can still understand that it hurts.”
The Chilliwack event in Rosedale involved the Popkum Volunteer Fire Department helping with traffic and releasing balloons of their own.
— with files from Cornelia Naylor,