This story was updated with the campaign's rising total.
The Ottawa tech community is rallying together to support the family of a local startup CEO who died in last week’s fatal plane crash in Tehran.
Forty-eight-year-old Ali Pey, the CEO and founder of Kanata-based Message Hopper, was among the 176 victims of Flight PS752, which crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 8. He leaves behind his wife, Marie Tremblay, and their four daughters.
The team at Kanata-based accelerator L-Spark, where Pey and his Message Hopper team shared an office, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support his family’s ongoing needs.
The fundraiser soared past its initial $2,000 goal over the course of the day on Tuesday, sitting at more than $6,500 by 5 p.m. Among the contributors were individual members of Ottawa's tech community as well as corporate donations from the likes of Fusebill and Versature.
As of Friday morning, the campaign had nearly hit the $17,000 mark.
Colleagues told OBJ last week that Pey was a kind man with a gentle soul.
“Ali is remembered as a beacon of positivity; someone who lit up a room and was enthusiastic about his family, community and everything else he turned his energy towards,” reads the GoFundMe campaign.
The tech entrepreneur and former Nortel engineer was in Iran to visit his father who had recently taken ill, said Ayat Tadjalli, a close friend and work associate.
When his father seemed to recover, Pey returned to Canada to spend the holidays with his children. But he got a call from his family in Iran saying his father had once again been taken to hospital.
“Ali said, 'This time I need to go and see my father, maybe for the last time.' And he went to visit his father in hospital,” Tadjalli said.
He said he was in shock when he found out about the plane and saw his friend's name on the list of victims.
Pey's partner, Marie, didn't want to believe it at all, Tadjalli said. She had spoken with him just a few hours before he boarded his flight.
“She told me, 'I'm waiting for someone to call me and tell me Ali wasn't on that plane,'” Tadjalli said.
Tadjalli first met Pey when he started a group for Iranian parents to help foster the Persian language.
“He was really good with kids, he was really enthusiastic about playing with kids, teaching them.”
– With files from Canadian Press