The pandemic is slowing down several spheres of activity and good causes are no exception. In Rimouski, however, we hope to have found a solution to get around the problem.
The solution is embodied in One goal at a time, children’s book written by François Bérubé and illustrated by Vincent Rioux, alias VoRo. It will notably feature five members of the Océanic. The funds raised will go to the Fondation du Center hospitalier régional de Rimouski.
The story may be fictional, but the players are not. They are Anthony D’Amours, Nathan Ouellet, Zachary Bolduc, Isaac Belliveau and Luka Verreault.
“We are extras. We spend moments with the two main characters. I don’t want to give away too much, I don’t want to get slapped on my fingers! », Laughs D’Amours, a 20-year-old defender.
Goal: $ 37,500
Every year for the past five years, in Rimouski, the month of February has been “Little Heroes Month”. The Oceanic then joined the foundation of the hospital for various activities.
“Normally, we have a secret, VIP activity with between 20 and 40 sick children,” explains Stéphanie Boulianne, Executive Director of the Foundation of the Center hospitalier régional de Rimouski. They spend the day with players. We play games, free skating, dek hockey, drawing, a healthy snack. And the next day, young people and their families are invited to an Oceanic match. We choose a youngster who goes to the locker room before the match and who is on the blue line during the national anthem. ”
We understand that in times of COVID-19, these activities are impossible. The QMJHL should have resumed its activities in February (it is planned for January), but such initiatives will obviously be unthinkable.
The solution is therefore to publish a novel. The goal: to raise $ 37,500.
Anyone who has published a book will say that it is an astronomical number. Mme Boulianne herself speaks of an “ambitious” target.
But where it becomes realistic is that the foundation has found three partners to cover the costs of producing the book. “We did not want the foundation to assume a financial risk”, explains Mme Boulianne.
This means that all income from the sale of books will go directly to the foundation. By selling 1,500 copies at $ 25 each, the goal would be achieved.
The sums raised will be welcome, because the pandemic poses very real issues for the foundation.
“The consequences are great, because a foundation relies a lot on face-to-face events,” underlines Mr.me Boulianne. We had to cancel events or review the formula in other cases. There are financial losses linked to that. On the other hand, the pandemic brings about a generalized awareness of the community in relation to health. It was a priority, but it is even more so now. Since the start of the pandemic, we have witnessed fine gestures of solidarity from our partners. ”
A player who gets involved
It is no coincidence that Anthony D’Amours is participating in the project. He is the main ambassador for “Little Heroes’ Month”, but that’s just one of the causes he supports. He notably participated in the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge, the Patin-O-Thon of the Oceanic, and also got involved with Samuel Finn, who set the world record for the number of burpees, to raise funds for research into sarcoma, a type of cancer that develops in soft tissue or bones.
Last year, D’Amours was also one of the three finalists for the title of humanitarian player of the year in the QMJHL.
At the origin of his involvement, however, there is a tragedy: the death of Alec Reid, a player of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, who succumbed to complications related to epilepsy in March 2019. C ‘ is that D’Amours himself has epilepsy.
“It touched me,” he says. I didn’t know him personally. But he’s a guy my age. You put yourself in his place, in the place of parents, of family. I really felt sorry and it was not easy on my side. ”
To mark the first anniversary of Reid’s death, D’Amours also published a video last March. “I received messages from his family when I made my video and it was heartwarming. “
Before, it wasn’t that I didn’t see the importance of getting involved, but maybe I had fewer opportunities. But now that I have some, when I finish these activities, I still feel good. No need to twist my arm to do it! I had my own satisfaction from the acts I was doing.
With One goal at a time D’Amours will have every reason to be satisfied. Beyond the sums that the initiative will raise, the book also addresses the issue of eating disorders and body diversity. In addition, in this period when local purchasing is more valued than ever, the work is produced by two artists from Bas-Saint-Laurent.
For D’Amours, it’s also a great way to end his four-year stay with the Océanic. The defenseman, never drafted into the NHL, hopes to receive offers to play at college or at the professional level, failing which he will complete his college diploma in industrial maintenance.
In the meantime, he fully maximizes the visibility conferred on him by his status as an Oceanic player.
“We are followed a lot on social networks. Rimouski is a small town, so everything we do is seen. We are a small community, but we do a lot of things. With the visibility we have, it’s a good way to do good things. ”