Canadian's death in Mexico sparks huge crowdfunding response
Published Tuesday, February 24, 2015 9:38AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 24, 2015 2:34PM EST
Friends and family of a popular promoter who died on vacation in Mexico on Monday have shattered a $20,000 fundraising goal to fly him home for burial in Canada.
Nathan James Carl Holder, who went by the name "NateBlack," died in Cancun, Mexico on Monday, according to his family. They say he was on a reading week vacation with friends when he "became ill" and "passed away suddenly."
He was 29, his family says.
Holder was the co-founder of Lion's Den University, a student lifestyle website.
Holder's family set up a crowdfunding campaign Monday evening to raise funds to bring him home. The campaign quickly surpassed its $20,000 goal and racked up more than $35,000 in contributions by Tuesday afternoon.
"We are making arrangements to transfer his body to Toronto from Cancun and also for the funeral," said a message on the crowdfunding website. "The repatriation process and funeral will cost upwards of $20,000."
More than 750 individuals have already donated to the cause, including three backers who pledged $1,000 each.
"We appreciate the love," campaign organizer Carolynn Mayers wrote in an update early Tuesday. "We can see how Nathan touched so many hearts."
In a separate email to CTVNews.ca, Mayer said the family is now "preparing for his arrival."
Holder had strong ties to the Western University community in London, Ont. He was also heavily involved in London's Greek community through the Delta Upsilon fraternity.
Former fraternity president Paolo Campisi described Holder as "a perfect example of what you look for in a fraternity brother." Campisi says he and Holder were close friends in the fraternity during their years at Western, and those ties remained tight up until Holder's death.
Campisi said he's not surprised by the success of the crowdfunding campaign to fly Holder's body home.
"It's entirely to do with the type of person he was. He had so many friends," Campisi told CTVNews.ca by phone on Tuesday. "He really made people feel good about themselves and he was a very inclusive person."
After news of Holder's death broke, Delta Upsilon extended its "deepest sympathies" to Holder's family in a post to Facebook Monday evening.
"During his time at Delta Upsilon he not only changed the lives of our brothers, but of every person he came across in the Western community," the post said.
Campisi added that the fraternity is "hurting at every level" after the loss of one of its own.
Matt Helfand, president of Western's student union, tweeted his own condolences on Monday night.
Holder's LinkedIn page says he spent four years at Western and another year at York University in Toronto.
He was living in London at the time of his death.
Holder had a strong social media presence under his NateBlack alias. His Twitter account had over 1,300 followers and he frequently tweeted about LDU articles and events.
Black's last post on the site was called "6 Guidelines for Western Kids Going Away on Spring Break," published Feb. 10.
His Instagram page shows he led an active social life.
After Holder's death, many took to social media to express their grief.
You couldn't come up with a bad thing to say about him even if u tried. He lived everyday to the fullest. Rest easy, friend @NateJamesBlack— Amy Tinsley (@amytinsley) February 24, 2015