03/11/2014 07:11 EDT | Updated 05/11/2014 05:59 EDT

Pregnant widow of avalanche victim A.J. Cleary moved by support

The pregnant widow of a man who was killed in an avalanche near Vernon, B.C., on Sunday says she is overwhelmed by the support she is receiving from family, friends, and online strangers.

Laura Elward's husband, Adrian John (A.J.) Cleary, was snowmobiling in the Monashee Mountains about 50 kilometres east of Vernon when he was caught in an avalanche and buried under five metres of snow. He died several hours later in hospital.

Elward and Cleary were expecting their first child this summer. Since the accident, donations have been pouring into a trust fund set up to support Elward and the baby. 

"It gives me a lot of comfort that people thought so highly of him. And seeing how much everybody cares and how much he inspired everybody is really heartwarming for me," said Elward. 

The online component of the fundraiser alone has raised more than $40,000 in less than 24 hours.

"I can't even believe it. I wasn't even expecting this at all," said Elward.

Elward said she is even more heartened by the help she is receiving from family and friends, many of whom are pitching in to help finish several projects she and her husband had started on their home.  

"I don't know what I would have done without it. I think I would still be in my room under the covers."

Cleary, 34, was a Newfoundlander born to Come By Chance Mayor Joan Cleary. He had been living and working as a nurse in B.C. 

The A.J. Cleary Memorial Fund can be found on