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GARLAND, Box Elder — Vanica Crane, a Box Elder Middle School teacher, returned from a trip Friday to discover the Box Elder High School principal's husband had suddenly died the day before.
That same day, she went to her mailbox to find a mysterious letter addressed to her containing $100 and challenged her to "pay it forward."
"I got the mail yesterday, and there is a letter addressed to me with a $100 bill in it and at the top it says 'make a change for good,'" Crane said. "All they ask for in return is to write a letter back telling them what we did in the money."
Crane took to Facebook asking people to add to the $100 to be given to Jamie Kent, the high school principal, to use for a cause she feels best honors her husband Ryan Kent. Within 24 hours, over $1,000 was raised and that number keeps growing.
"The support and kindness is overwhelming," Jamie Kent said. "Some of the donors said they also lost their spouse tragically."
Ryan Kent, 44, died suddenly from a blood clot and pneumonia. His wife said he was flown to a hospital in Ogden and was then transferred to University Hospital in Salt Lake City. She said both medical teams did everything they could, but they could not save her high school sweetheart.
The two met at Bear River High School — where he returned to coach the freshmen football and youth baseball teams. She is the principal of her husband's rival school. According to Crane, the high school's assistant principal made Ryan a T-shirt that said: "I'm a bear, but my wife is queen bee."
"He was my biggest fan and always made me feel like I could do anything," Jamie said. "And he had that effect on other people. A lot of people have told me 'I don’t know how to pay back what he did for me.'"
Jamie and her children Tayler, Makayden Ryan and Kenzie have been thinking of the perfect way to honor her late husband. Right now, they are thinking about setting up a scholarship to be split between a Bear River and Box Elder baseball player to help them continue their education.
"Education is very important in our family, and we want to help someone get to that next level," Jamie said.
If you would like to donate to the Kent family's "pay it forward" you can Venmo @Vanica-Crane*.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.