It's the kind of nightmare no parent would ever see coming: while visiting the Schlitterbahn Water Park in Kansas City, Missouri, with his family Sunday, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab died on one of the park's biggest attractions, the 168-feet high Verruckt waterslide, killed by a fatal neck injury that witnesses have described as decapitation. The horrific accident is hard for anyone to think about, but for the Schwab family the reality must be excruciatingly devastating. Unsurprisingly, donations are pouring in from across the country to assist the family during this unbelievably difficult time, so if you're wondering how to help Caleb Schwab's family following the Schlitterbahn accident, it looks like there are a few options.
According to TIME, a GoFundMe page was started for the Schwabs by a member of the family's church after news of his death broke. Michael Persaud, who taught Caleb in Bible classes, explained that he started the page to help raise funds for funeral costs at the request of the church's pastor, and that they'd based the goal amount of $15,000 on the amount they estimated would be needed for Schwab's funeral. But the response was far greater than they had expected, with over 528 people raising $34,740 in only two days.
The GoFundMe campaign is no longer active, since the goal has already been met (and then some), but Persaud did indicate that anyone still looking to donate to the Schwab family can do so via the Schwab Memorial Fund, which is run through the LifeMission Church. Donations can be made to the fund by choosing the "Caleb Schwab Memorial" in the first drop-down menu, along with amount, and payment information. The website accepts personal checks or credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Discover), and it looks as though international donations might also be accepted through this form, too.
Caleb's father, Kansas state Rep. Scott Schwab, released a statement on behalf of his family via the GoFundMe page in his son's honor, and described the family's gratitude at the support being shown to them, as well as their love for their late son. Schwab wrote,
Michele and I want to thank the Olathe, and Kansas City, KS communities and all our friends and family for their out pouring of support and compassion as it relates to the sudden loss of our son Caleb Thomas Schwab.
Since the day he was born he brought abundant joy to our family and all those who he came in contact with. As we try and mend our home with him no longer with us, we are in comfort knowing he believed in his Savior, Jesus, and they are forever together now. We will see him another day.
Robin Sloan, mother of one of Caleb's friends, spoke to People about her son Jack's friendship with Caleb, and about the things the boys discussed while attending Sunday School together at LifeMission Church. Sloan said that Jack described Caleb as a "nice, happy kid" who always liked to give his friends hugs, and that the two boys often talked about heaven, speculating that there'd probably be "endless amounts" of chocolate milk — Caleb's favorite — there.
Caleb's pastor, Clint Sprague, told the Kansas City Star that “Caleb was an incredible young man,” who will "be missed for his energy, for his life, for his smile, for the way he lit up a room.” Sprague also spoke of the young boy's strong faith, saying,
He was just the sweetest kid. He would always be enthusiastic and just happy to be there. He was just into it, excited about Godly things...Caleb was a 10-year-old child, but in many ways, he was a man of God.
The Schwab's devout belief in God and the support of their church no doubt seem like they will be very important to the family as they try and heal from the devastating loss of their son. And from the sounds of it, prayer could also be another way that those looking to support the Schwab family can do to help. Sloan told People that, "Caleb knew Jesus," adding that "[He and Jack] knew if someone was sick, they would just pray for them." In his statement, Scott Schwab asked for privacy for his family, but said that "continued prayers are welcome and appreciated."
According to the GoFundMe page, a visitation will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at LifeMission Church in Olathe, Kansas, while a memorial service is planned for Friday at 2 p.m.