13-year-old starts special fundraiser in memory of special-needs friend

by: Eric Philips Updated:


PINEVILLE, N.C. - On Sunday, a teenage girl who was touched by the death of her bowling buddy held a special fundraiser in his memory.

Although her friend was three times her age, she said the bond that they shared was strong.

"He was a bowling buddy and he died in February. He couldn't walk or talk or use his limbs and we went bowling together once a week," said 13-year-old Caley Coughlin.

She is talking about 41-year-old Jeremy Alpern. They met through a nonprofit organization called Friendship Circle, which pairs those with special needs with teen volunteers in the Charlotte area.

"I was really touched when he passed," said Coughlin.

So she decided to organize Jeremy's Jump, to help send special needs children to winter and summer camp.

"It's just amazing to see so much joy come out of our grief it's a just a great honor," said Coughlin's mom.

It is a 13 hour jump-a-thon that started at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning in honor of Jeremy, who was born with severe heart defects and left  wheelchair-bound as a child.

"He would have loved this event, he loved a lot of commotion and a lot of noise and people jumping around so he's watching it," said Coughlin's mom.

The jump-a-thon continues until 10 p.m. on Sunday night at Sky High in Pineville.

Organizers said it will become an annual event.