When 26-year-old Co Down native Kevin Bell was killed on June 16, 2013 in a hit and run accident in New York City, his friends and family set up a fundraising event to help bring his body home.
Two days after the accident, friends organized a quiz and auction night to help raise money. They raised over €53,000 ($72,000) raised that night and a total of €250,000 ($340,000) to date. The event turned into an incredible charitable project, with the quiz now an annual fundraising event.
In just one year, the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust (KBRT) has gone on to help 30 Irish families who have lost loved ones abroad.
“It is great that Kevin’s name and spirit is living on through the trust,” Kevin’s sister Ciara told Her.ie.
“It will never bring him back or ease the pain of losing him, but it keeps us busy and it does help us knowing we are helping others.”
“We have been overwhelmed with the support we have received,” Ciara continued.
“If they had not have held the initial fundraisers to get Kevin home we would not have been able to set up the trust”.
Despite the fundraising efforts, Kevin’s body was brought home courtesy of the Aisling Centre, an immigrant support group based in New York.
Earlier this year, Kevin’s twin brother, Brendan, and Dad, Colin, joined Ryan Tubridy in the RTÉ 2FM studio to highlight the service available to those who need it. KBRT has also featured on TV3’s Ireland AM and UTV.
“We are very happy to be able to help other people in similar situations as ourselves,” Ciara added.
“Kevin would be delighted with everything we are doing, he would also be delighted that it is being done in his name.”