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Community supports families in wake of tragic fire

By Susan Mustapich | Mar 02, 2021
Courtesy of: Holly Hedstrom Theodore Hedstrom with his cousin.

CAMDEN — A wave of support has flowed from the community to help the families of Theodore Hedstrom, who lost his life in a devastating house fire Feb. 25.

The 14-year-old is survived by his mother, Carrie Connors, father, Tom Hedstrom and five siblings.

Over $200,000 has been raised in donations for the Connors/Hedstrom family in under a week. Offers of support, from services to help rebuild and landscape to donations, continue to pour in.

Families are also putting hockey sticks outside their doors and on their lawns in memory of Theodore.

Carrie Connors, Theodore's mother, who was still in the hospital March 1, sent a message about what the support means to the family.

"I believe that the outpouring of love and generosity of my friends and the entire community is the only reason I am somehow getting from each day to the next, " she said. "I know my children feel that way too. They’re learning from all of you what it means to be in community. I need everyone to understand the enormity of my gratitude."

Family members and friends are helping organize all of the offers of assistance.

Holly Hedstrom set up a MealTrain account to help the family through the next month. Community members signed up, in one day, to provide meals for the family through the end of March, and purchased over $3,000 in gift cards for food. Hedstrom, Theodore's aunt, sent a message March 1, to those who have helped, and others who may want to do something in Theodore's name.

"Thank you to everyone that has spread their love by making a dish or making a donation. From what I have been told every meal so far has been outstanding and very much appreciated. The support from this community is truly like no other, what a blessing," Hedrom wrote in a post.

She also encouraged those who want to make donations in Theodore's name to consider the Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston Burn Care Unit, or to support his favorite local sports organizations: Maine Coast Storm Hockey, Camden-Rockport Middle School golf team and Five Town Babe Ruth.

Kea Tesseyman is helping organize the outpouring of offerings of help and fundraising along with Connor's sister, Jill Schneider. Tesseyman, who owns a dance company and school, is close friends with Connors.

Though not a family member, she got through to Connors in the hospital the afternoon of the fire. She let her know that so many people were contacting her to find out what they could do. Connors gave her the OK to help.

Feeling shock and grief for the loss of Theodore and the whole family, Tesseyman said she felt she could be one voice speaking with intention for many, as a way to help "the community be heard and give people direction to share their love, offer their support and have their grief received and acknowledged."

Fielding donations for requests of everything from furnishings to clothing and services, Tesseyman provided contacts who could help with certain items, and also let people know that while the family is grateful, they are not in a position to receive material donations at this time. She provided information about a Camden National Bank account in care of: Carrie Connors Family Fund and GoFundMe accounts for those who wanted to contribute.

Her Facebook posts also became one place where people expressed their messages for the families, recollections of Theodore and their own sadness. There are many other groups of families and students or former students who went to school with Theodore or his siblings, sharing their messages with one another.

Community members found a GoFundMe Connors had set up a week before the fire, asking for help with a small building the family was working on because the main house on Mount Battie Street was too small. On the day of the fire, donations began pouring in. By March 2, over 1,000 people had contributed.

Schneider, who does not live in Maine, organized a Theodore’s Light GoFundMe. Tesseymen posted information on Facebook to let the community know about this. Within a few days, donations surpassed $100,000.

A raffle organized by Rockland firefighters to raise money for the Hedstrom family sold out its 200 tickets in three hours, according Carl Anderson, president of Local 1584 of the Rockland Firefighter's union.

The raffle will be drawn March  5, and all of the $2,000 raised will go to a Camden National Bank account set up for the family, Anderson said.

The links for the GoFundMe and MealTrain accounts are:

Mealtrain.com/trains/0oo5w3

gofundme.com/f/celebrating-theodore-and-helping-the-hedstroms?utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=customer

gofundme.com/f/kemxek-building-fundraiser

Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston Burn Care Unit: online - www.lovetotherescue.org. Please include the email address hedstrom2021@gmail.com so the family will be notified. Donate by calling 844-39-0849, or mail to: Shriners Hospitals for Children, Attn: Processing Center, PO Box 863765, Orlando, FL 32886.

Five Town Babe Ruth. To donate, call 207-701-1455 or email lynnekbrown@mac.com.

Maine Coast Storm Hockey. Email mainecoaststormfundraiser@gmail.com or mail a check with "In memory of Theo Hedstrom" to Maine Coast Storm, PO Box 1166, Rockport, ME  04846.

Five Town Little League. See 'donate' link. Please include a note in the webform: In memory of Theo. Contact: Rick Thackeray, President, Board of Directors, mainefivetownlittleleague@gmail.com.

Camden Hills Regional High School Golf Team. See Facebook page.

Camden Rockport Middle School Golf Team. Email gooserivergolfmaine@gmail.com

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Comments (3)
Posted by: Jane Karker | Mar 06, 2021 09:13

Her partner Asa Thompson is is also a part of this story. Asa is suffering from third degree burns and weeks of hospitalization after risking is life to save the teen. He would not give up and was finally pulled put of the house by for. A dear Young man.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Mar 03, 2021 10:14

This is so awesome!  God Bless you all!



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 02, 2021 16:56

Another reason I am thankful to be a resident of mid-coast Maine where Heaven is a local call.  

Isn't it awesome to see  HOPE, HEALING and HUMILITY permeating the atmosphere? PHEW!!



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