By the age of 6, Rebecca Madan Kollaras injected herself with insulin to treat her Type 1 diabetes. She spent a good portion of her life effectively caring for herself, and after giving birth to a baby girl, Kollaras devoted even more time into caring and raising her daughter Zoe.
Without question, Kollaras ’ unexpected death on April 19 shocked her family, friends and neighbors. She was 45.
In honor of her life, nearly 100 of them came together Saturday for a block party in the downtown area of Miami Shores to ensure her 10-year-old daughter Zoe continues to be taken care of.
Kollaras ’ mother, Carol Bonner, said she was not surprised by the outpouring of support.
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“Becca was like a magnet. She had all types of friends. She always over-cared,” Bonner said.
Out of the many hands helping Zoe, Rebecca’s gym trainer from Primal Fit Miami and close friend Matt Pack stands out. He started a GiveForward online fundraising campaign for Zoe, which went viral quickly.
His original goal of $25,000 was met shortly after creating it on April 21. Pack knew he had to do more.
“A part of me asked if this was greedy, but it’s not my money,” Pack said. “This is for Zoe, so why not get as much as we can?”
His new goal is to raise a $50,000 trust fund for Zoe.
Pack and Kollaras ’ family and friends rounded up several local businesses and organized a fundraising block party, which took place on Northeast 98th Street and Second Avenue.
The village’s police and fire department set up a dunk tank and children ran between three bounce houses, an arts and crafts station, and a face-painting tent. A DJ played music while participants filled the block and enjoyed local food samples like the cupcakes and pastries offered by Enchanted Creations, a bakery right on that corner.
The Wholly Kitchen, among several local restaurants, fed participants who donated $10 to attend the event. Raffle giveaways happened throughout the day, and pet adoptions were offered by Saving Sage, an animal rescue foundation.
“It’s unfortunate Zoe has to start over and try to make anew, but she’s like her mother so she’ll be okay,” said Bonner.
Those who knew Zoe’s relationship with her mother point to how close the two were. Kollaras encouraged Zoe to be the best she could be. She often wrote about it in her blog at uncommom.com.
Whether it was the guitar lessons Kollaras enrolled Zoe in, her involvement in Miami Shores Elementary School’s PTA or her helping in starting Tween Fit, a class in the village’s recreation center made to inspire young adults to exercise, Kollaras was always supportive of Zoe.
“Rebecca wanted to show Zoe that exercise and taking time for yourself is very important. If you can’t be there for yourself, you won’t be able to take the time for anyone else,” said Pack. “I thought that was a really nice lesson, and she led by action in that aspect of her life.”
The block party raised approximately $6,000, according to Pack. With those additional funds included, the GiveForward campaign is close to $48,000. It ends in June.
As for Zoe, Bonner said she has an army of mothers offering their homes while her father settles from Tampa to Miami.
“It’s been rewarding and humbling to see what can take place when you rally everyone in a community together for a fallen neighbor,” Pack said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks for everyone, and I’ve been fixated on getting this done for Zoe. It’s all I’ve been thinking about.”
How to help
To donate, visit www.GiveForward.com and search for Zoe Kollaras .