The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina has announced it will establish the Riley Howell Foundation Fund in honor of the Waynesville college student who died during last month's shooting on the campus of UNC Charlotte. The fund will support families affected by gun violence.
Howell was killed April 30th when tackled a gunman who opened fire inside a classroom in the Kennedy Building on the UNCC campus. Another student, Ellis Parlier, was also killed. Four others were wounded. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police chief said Howell's decision to confront the gunman saved 'countless' other lives even as the 21-year-old lost his. Residents of Waynesville lined the streets when Howell's body was returned a few days later for a memorial service that was held a few days after that at Lake Junaluska.
The Riley Howell Foundation Fund will provide financial support to "charitable organizations that serve other victims and families affected by similar tragedies" according to a statement. The services those groups offer could include grief counseling, funeral expenses, domestic care, and long-term health care and wellness coverage. Howell's mother, his uncle, the father of his longtime girlfriend, and a friend of his family are all apart of the fund initial advisory board. That board will come up with a list of initial recipient organizations by July. “I didn’t intend to give Riley to the world, but now that he belongs to everyone, we hope his willingness to put others first can be an inspiration,” said Riley Howell's mother Natalie Henry-Howell in a statement. She will serve as the president of the fund's advisory board. “His altruistic nature was fundamental to his character. If thinking of Riley sparks any one of us to reach out and care more about others, to help rather than be indifferent or cause harm, then his legacy can be remarkably meaningful."