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Barbecue raises funds for scholarship honouring Toronto shooting victim

Click to play video: 'Family, friends, members of public pay respects to Danforth victim Reese Fallon' Family, friends, members of public pay respects to Danforth victim Reese Fallon
Hundreds of people gathered at Highland Funeral Home, attending a visitation for 18-year-old Reese Fallon, who was killed in a shooting on the Danforth. As Erica Vella reports, friends of the young woman say they remember Fallon as kind and generous – Jul 29, 2018

TORONTO – 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 and 13 people were injured. The shooter, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, was also found dead in the area.

Crowds of people attended Wednesday’s event at Bob Acton Park, just a five-minute walk from where Fallon went to high school at Malvern Collegiate Institute.

READ MORE: Taste of the Danforth honours victims of mass shooting at opening ceremony

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.

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Hundreds of people attended the open-air event, where tables were filled with gift bags for raffle and auction. Organizers also ran an online auction, selling such items 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.”

By 7 p.m., Steel said they had definitely surpassed their goal of raising $75,000 for the scholarship.

Singer Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo was among those came to show his support, singing some of the Canadian band’s hits for he crowd.

Cuddy, who lives near the Danforth and has a studio in the area, told the audience he hopes the support of the community will bring Fallon’s family some comfort.

“There are a lot of people that want to love each other, and protect each other, and support each other. And that’s what this is about,” he said in an interview.

READ MORE: Mourners attend funerals for Danforth shooting victims Reese Fallon, Julianna Kozis

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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 more than a decade, and the family “has been stunned by the outpouring.”

She said Fallon would have really liked that a scholarship was set up.

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“It’s a wonderful way to spread love,” said Strait.

Page Ricketts said she also lives in the Danforth neighbourhood, and most people who attended the event do as well.

“We’re very community-oriented,” she said.

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.”

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