FARGO — Sarah Fischer embarked on a long, emotional journey when she lost her son, 22-year-old Cameron Bolton, in a car accident nearly three years ago.
Now, the mother who channeled her grief into organ donation advocacy has found a location for a memorial garden in her son's honor. She hopes it will spread awareness of her cause and help others who have lost loved ones make it through what she endured.
Bolton was an organ donor, and Fischer said a "Garden of Healing" in Urban Plains Park, 5050 30th Ave. S., will be a place for families to learn more about organ donation options and serve as a site for outdoor memorial services. The Fargo Park Board unanimously approved her proposal for the memorial garden this week.
The Garden of Healing would also be a place to sit and reflect upon the loss of a child or a loved one and to "find joy in the beautiful surroundings," Fischer said. The approved site is near Sanford Medical Center and Essentia Health's Fargo hospital.
An emotional Fischer and her husband, Arlin, told the park board this week in a presentation that they will finance the professionally designed park through donations. Local organizations plan to take care of the maintenance.
In requesting support from the park board in a letter submitted before the meeting, Fischer said her "son's legacy" was to help others learn about the gift of donating.
She told the park board she was proud of who her son had become in life and described him as a spontaneous, energetic young man who was always looking for adventure.
Then came the call on June 28, 2018, when Bolton was found severely injured in a crash near Mapleton. Doctors deemed him "brain dead," she wrote, and the hospital had to keep him on life support for a few days so his organs could be donated.
"God blessed Cameron with so many wonderful characteristics, but the greatest of them was his heart," she wrote. "I believe God kept Cameron alive after his accident so that his heart could be donated. God knew that a heart like his still had way too much love to give. Cameron's heart was filled with kindness, compassion, and a love that made everyone around him feel appreciated."
Bolton's heart now beats in a man in his 30 from Iowa, who Fischer said she hopes to meet eventually.
"His life continues to bless others and our family has found peace knowing that he continues to live on, that God's plan for Cameron is complete," she wrote.
The Fischers were joined in their presentation to the park board by a double lung transplant recipient and a local Lions Club leader.
Shannon Mohn, who had a lung transplant two years ago and is a member of the Fargo-Moorhead Lung and Heart Transplant Group, told the board that the garden would help him and his family continue to honor his donor.
The transplant group plans to join the Lions Club to help with the garden's maintenance.
Park Board Commissioner Vicki Dawson said she "loved the idea" and added that she thought the location was perfect as it has plenty of parking and green space.
Park Board President Stacey Griggs said she appreciated the time and research the couple put into the project by visiting several other similar gardens, plus their work with the park district administration.
Fischer would like to start building the garden this year. The estimated cost is $15,000, and if people donate bricks engraved with names of loved ones for walkways and other garden features at $50 each it would help cover the cost, she said.
Fischer also suggested donating birdbaths, trees or other stone features in memory of their loved ones.
Those interested in donating to Crosses For Cameron can find more information on the organization's website, crossesforcameron.org.
The Fischers continue to seek other donations to enhance the park. Their plan so far is to use $7,200 raised through Giving Hearts Day in February and to raise more money through a motorcycle charity ride planned for August.