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Josh Underhay's wife challenges P.E.I. residents to ‘love wildly and with abandon’

A display is set up of photos and objects belonging to Oliver Underhay and Josh Underhay at a memorial event on Friday. Both Josh and Oliver died in a canoeing accident on April 19.
A display is set up of photos and objects belonging to Oliver Underhay and Josh Underhay at a memorial event on Friday. Both Josh and Oliver died in a canoeing accident on April 19. - Stu Neatby
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Karri Shea thanked the many people who have reached out to her family after the tragedy that took the lives of Josh and Oliver Underhay.

But she also issued a challenge to the hundreds who gathered at Stonepark Intermediate School for a memorial event Friday night for Josh and Oliver, 6.

Josh and Oliver died April 19 in a canoeing accident in the Hillsborough River.

"I'm not here to speak to speak about my pain,” Shea said. “I know that I have not yet reached the depths of it. I'm here to talk about legacy."

Since the accident, Shea said many have asked her what they can do to help her and her three-year-old son Linden.

“Here's my answer: Please don't let their deaths be only a senseless tragedy,” Shea said.

“Let them be a call to action and a catalyst for a change that you make in your life. For Prince Edward Island, for the world. Plant a tree, donate blood, put solar on your roof, buy an electric car.

“Build a bike path, Charlottetown."

Shea also urged supporters to “love wildly and with abandon” in memory of her son Oliver.

Underhay, who was a Green party candidate in the recent provincial election, was well known in the community as a teacher, an avid trumpet player and a cycling advocate.

The tone of Friday’s event was more celebratory than somber.

Earlier in the evening, Josh’s siblings Mitch and Sara Underhay told several stories about his off-kilter sense of humour.

Sara described Christmas holidays in which Josh decided to wear every item of clothing he had ever received as a gift during past holidays, all at once.

“He would put on eight to 10 pairs of socks, four or five pairs of pants, sweaters,” Sara said.

“And he would just sit there sweating and eating chocolate and complaining about how hot it was."

"He couldn't take it off until all the gifts were done," Mitch said.

Local musical group The Sidewalks, of which Josh Underhay was a member, perform during a memorial event Friday. Underhay, an avid trumpet player, and his six-year-old son Oliver died in a canoeing accident on April 19. - Stu Neatby
Local musical group The Sidewalks, of which Josh Underhay was a member, perform during a memorial event Friday. Underhay, an avid trumpet player, and his six-year-old son Oliver died in a canoeing accident on April 19. - Stu Neatby

The event included performances by The Sidewalks, of which Josh had been a long-time member, and Andrew Waite and the Firm, with whom Josh had also performed.

The event drew hundreds whose lives were touched by both Oliver and Josh. Many lined up to view drawings that had been made by Oliver and to look through photos of Josh, Karri, Oliver and Linden on their various trips to different parts of the world.

Both Shea and the Underhay siblings urged members of the community to share with them memories of Josh and Oliver.

"Everyone here has that story of the first time they met Josh. We don't. We don't have that. Josh was as real as gravity," Mitch said.

Shea asked people to share with her ways in which they had been inspired by Josh to make a difference.

“I want to know how their lives resonate. Tell me what change you made to make the world just a little bit better,” Shea said.

“Let that be their legacy."

Twitter.com/stu_neatby

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