Kroffat clan grieves loss of young Caleb during Christmas

The coroner is filtering facts around a heart condition that suddenly killed Duncan
The coroner is filtering facts around a heart condition that suddenly killed Duncan's Caleb Kroffat (left) recently outside the Cowichan Arena. He and brother Ethan were hockey players, and News Leader Pictorial carriers.
— image credit: Kroffat family

Christmas just wasn't the same without Caleb in the Kroffat household.

New Year's will be equally as empty, his father Jason explained after the sudden death of his 11-year-old son outside the Cowichan Arena Nov. 8.

Solace surfaced with the coroner's recent news to the family Caleb's death was from natural causes, not suspicious reasons.

Cowichanians also raised some cash to help the Kroffats weather their financial storm.

And Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey League is hosting a tournament in Caleb's honour at Fuller Lake Arena, a grateful Jason said.

"We can't say enough about the community," he said. "If not for the support and love from our community, I don't know how we would have gotten through this time, and Christmas."

He called the yuletide "very sad" this year without rambunctious Caleb.

"It's been very tough, but we tried to be as strong as possible so (brother) Ethan could have a good Christmas, and keep his spirits up."

Caleb's absence hit home Christmas morning.

"Ethan and Caleb would be the first ones up opening presents; this year Ethan didn't have his brother there," Jason said.

One consoling present was medical word from the coroner that Caleb's death was not foul play or accidental. The exact cause is still pending.

"We heard it was a medical issue of the heart, but they haven't discovered what the main issue was: genetic or arrhythmia — we might know in another month or two," said Jason.

Heart tissue has been sent to arrhythmia specialists for further examination.

"This gives us some closure, but we always think 'Is there a possibility we could have found out before this happened, and gotten Caleb medication or surgery?'

"As parents, we take for granted our children are always healthy and young, and nothing will happen to them.

"At the end of the day," he suggested, "every parent should get their children a physical check-up."

Still, the Kroffats gratefully accepted a financial boost of about $3,700 raised during Kyle Hicks's collection drive.

"I just wanted to help because there are funeral costs, and Jason and (Caleb's mom) Renee weren't working," said the 19-year-old barista at Beverly Corners' Starbucks.

Hicks, son of Jason's cousin Wendy, gained those benevolent bucks via fundraiser website, while spreading word on social media, and through Rotary friends and family.

"I cashed out the money around Dec. 22 and met them at dinner time. We chatted around coffee, and I gave them the money," he said of the emotional gift-giving. "They talked about Caleb."

Hicks simply wanted to soften the tragedy's effects. "I can't even imagine what they're going through."

Hockey ice seems to be melting some of Kroffats' emotional bruises.

Jason was overjoyed about Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey League's current tournament — in Caleb's honour — called Play it Forward.

The salute to community generosity sees 10 peewee teams — including Caleb's Winterhawks — facing off at Fuller Lake Arena until Saturday night.

The Winterhawks' rival team from Nanaimo recently wore camouflage arm bands (saluting hunter Caleb), and face-painted his #10.

Parksville's peewees signed a banner of condolences for Caleb and his family.

"It's been very special what all these teams are doing; it's all coming from their hearts," Jason said.

Folks wishing to donate to the Kroffats can visit Hicks on Facebook.

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