Central Albertans are opening their hearts to the five-year-old son of a popular Blackfalds police officer who died of cancer before Christmas.
Const. Jamie Carswell, 34, who helped at school bike rodeos and was active with the Kids and Cops program, died Dec. 21 at Red Deer Regional Hospital after an 11-year battle with breast cancer.
Having gone into remission three times, Jamie never wanted to give up, said her father Robert Carswell, who runs the Red Deer Boxing Club.
But it was clear his daughter was getting weaker in the last month of her life, as cancer spread to her bones and liver.
Jamie’s last public appearance was Nov. 24 at a fundraiser held at the Elephant and Castle in Red Deer. Dozens of people supported building Jamie a wheelchair-accessible home.
The public generosity now continues as a GoFundMe campaign switches to benefit Jamie’s son, Lincoln. Since Jamie had raised him as a single parent since he was a toddler, Lincoln will now be living with his grandparents, Robert and Pauline Carswell of Red Deer.
Almost $7,000 was raised for the boy’s future in less than a month. Her father said the support has been “unbelievable… People in the community have really come through, it’s amazing…”
The Carswells immersed their three daughters in Red Deer’s curling, fastball and boxing communities.
Jamie’s athletic ability — she tackled a would-be electronics thief in the parking lot of Walmart — was witnessed by a retired police officer who encouraged her to leave her loss-prevention job and train as an RCMP officer.
“He told her the force really needs someone like her,” said Staff Sgt. Dan Martin of the Blackfalds RCMP, who was thoroughly impressed by Jamie’s dedication to the community.
Although she could only work part-time while undergoing cancer treatments, “she jumped in wherever she could,” helping at schools, the Boys and Girls Club, and with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, he recalled.
“She was just a great person, with an infectious personality. She made you feel better, just by spending time with her,” said Martin. “Things are pretty sombre around here… We’ll miss her.”
Jamie’s father believes that becoming a police officer “is exactly where she wanted to be going.” Unfortunately, his daughter was diagnosed with cancer while finishing training in 2007.
“She always had her heart and soul out for everybody else,” said her father. In an interview for a cancer-related website, Jamie said the superpower she would most like to possess is “to be able to see people’s souls instead of their physical beauty, at first glance.”
A celebration of her life was planned for Friday at the Blackfalds Community Centre.