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Sister Remembers Brother with Frisbee Tribute


There’s a special frisbee working its way through North America and it is powered by a sister’s love.

When Natalie Kelly’s brother Nelson died suddenly in 2021 in a car crash, memorializing him with a frisbee disc seemed natural, she told Tulip Cremation. 

At the beginning of COVID, Kelly’s brother Nelson had introduced her to disc golf. Because she was working from home then and had more flexibility in her schedule, she was able to play with him every day. “That was our thing. He was so supportive all the time. We always had so much fun. Our faces hurt from laughing every time we came back from playing a round.”

After he died, she and a mutual friend placed a special disc on their course and asked people to play it and if it was at the end of the course, to move it to a new course. "We left it at our local course, which was his favorite course, just expecting it would go around locally where people we knew would play it and enjoy it and post pictures. It’s a chance to still feel connected to him even though he’s gone.”

Kelly wrote on the disc, “This disc is in memory of Nelson Kelly. Please toss this hole for him, then leave on next hole for next player. If found on last hole, please take to a new course.” Kelly also included an Instagram account, nelsonkelly952 and Nelson’s name and his birth and death dates. The account bio explains, “This account is in memory of my brother, Nelson. I want to keep his memory alive by sending this disc out into the world.”

The frisbee has given her something positive to focus on while she struggles with her grief and the upcoming trial scheduled for next spring about the crash that killed her brother. “It was just a way to still kind of feel like he’s here and also share with the world what a great guy he was. He was very private and not on any social media at all, but now it’s ironic, he’s gone viral,” she said.

The disc has made its way all through Ontario, Canada to New York state and onward. But beyond where the physical disc itself has been, Kelly has heard from people all over the world offering words of support for her loss. “There is a bigger power at play here,” she says about the friendships she’s made with the connections that came from the project. 

Recently, Kelly celebrated Nelson’s July birthday with one such new friend, Adam Jacobs, who had found the tribute disc on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and took it home to Buffalo, New York. Jacobs joined Kelly to play a course in Ontario to mark the birthday together. She is looking forward to a trip down to the U.S. to meet Jacob’s wife and new baby soon.

“I feel like this was meant to be,” she explained about the experience. “I feel like Nelson has a hand in this.”

Nelson's death has been difficult for Natalie, but in addition to the frisbee, she remembers him with a heart-shaped necklace holding his ashes and a memorial tattoo with her brother’s license plate, “DEGU,” for “Don’t Ever Give Up.”

“I’ve got to represent my brother now. He’s no longer here, but I live my life and try to make him proud.”