A Story of Two Young Angels

In today’s world, the word ‘honor’ is used in a multitude of ways. When crisis, grief, and unfathomable heartache move-in as roommates in life, honor is a landing place for fond memories to flood.

Trista Curry 2012 graduate in applied studies and Bryan Dean 2010 graduate in business management are not strangers to crisis, grief, unfathomable heartache, or honor. Trista and Bryan met at UMN Crookston as students and built their family together.

On March 25, 2018, Trista was driving with their children, Camden (9), Avalon (3), and Maxwell (19 months) near Reynolds, N.D., when the unpredictable winter weather switched and they were caught in a white-out on the interstate causing nearly zero visibility. Tragically, their vehicle was struck by a semi fatally injuring Camden and Maxwell. Trista and Avalon, were sent to different hospitals for their injuries. Avalon suffered a fractured skull, brain bleed, and fractured fascia bones. Trista suffered a broken arm, five broken ribs, a lacerated liver, a fractured vertebrae, scapula, pneumothorax… but worst of all, a broken heart.

Photo of Camden (9), Avalon (3), and Maxwell (19 months)

People who experience this kind of loss describe it as their world abruptly stopping, but for everyone else, the world keeps spinning. Gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, and unbearable are adjectives that come to mind for describing this kind of loss, but indescribable should probably be in there as well. This kind of loss is against the way the world is supposed to work, against the cycle of life, against natural order. The term for a wife who loses her husband is “widow.” The term for a husband who loses his wife is “widower.” The term for a child who loses parents is “orphan.”  There are no terms for a parent who loses a child… it is indescribable

Photo of Trista and her children

When the option to go through daily life with all of your loved ones is no longer, the derisory choices to move forward seem bleak, insufficient, cruel, and inhumane. To learn how to mourn while moving forward is a strength that is only learned in certain circumstances – rather, to learn how to live while mourning is membership to a club that no one wants affiliation.

Photo of Bryan and daughter Avalon

There really is no ‘moving on’ from this kind of loss, but there is ‘moving forward.’ Three months after losing the boys, Trista and Bryan found out they were going to be parents again to twin girls. The twins were born on February 18, 2019 and given the names Isla Camden and Eloise Maxwell to honor the girls' big brothers.

Bryan and Trista have chosen honor every day since the passing of Camden and Maxwell. From daily Facebook posts including pictures and commentary, to providing namesakes, a Foundation doing acts of service for the greater good, and a scholarship – these parents are determined to leave a legacy that their sweet boys did not get a chance to pave for themselves.

Each year for the boys' birthdays, Trista and Bryan spearhead a toy drive in their honor. Over 1,000 toys are donated annually in Camden and Maxwell’s honor to local hospitals and charities. They have shirts designed to honor the boys and use the money from the sales to donate to other charities.

Photo of Trista and daughter Avalon

Trista and Bryan recognize they aren’t the only ones devastated. Camden, being school-aged, had made many friends. The CamCares Award was started at Camden’s school and is given annually to a student who exemplifies the same kind spirit and giving heart like Camden. The winner is given a check along with the award and the school is also awarded money. All of the kids who are nominated for the award complete a service project (such as collecting playdoh for the local hospital.)

Camden and Maxwell’s loved ones take every opportunity to honor them and continue to build their legacy. You can help by spreading random acts of kindness, donating to a toy drive, donating to the UMC Camden and Maxwell Dean Scholarship in their honor, and saying their name. Camden and Maxwell were taken too soon, but they left their mark, and certainly continue to do so through all of those who are touched by their story.


Donate to the Scholarship

A scholarship to support UMN Crookston students in honor of Camden and Maxwell.

Camden And Maxwell Dean Memorial Scholarship

Find their Foundation on Facebook

Give to the next toy drive and view shared memories.

Camden And Maxwell Foundation

Story Contact: Shawn Smith - smithsd@umn.edu - (218) 281-8414