The Story of Alicia. How one family started it all.
Alicia's Story - A Light That Still Shines
Written by David Owen
Days come and days go. For the most they are routine. December 29, 1988 was anything but routine for Alicia Goudreau, a very special, diminutive lady from Moncton. For you see on that December day in Houston, Texas, Alicia, her mother Patti and father Ray were able to say “hello” to Alicia’s future.
Houston and Alicia’s future assurance were preceded by a stay at the IWK Hospital, where the 8-month-old was admitted on Dec 13th suffering from a heart rhythm abnormality that was life threatening. Her heart stopped, doctors restarted it, not once but several times. The heart was definitely a problem but what was wrong with it was a mystery.
Medical mysteries are best solved by the finest medical detectives. The IWK Doctors believed the Cardiac Unit of the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston would fit that bill. Houston agreed to help. Courtesy of an anonymous New Brunswick Corporation; Alicia, parents and a medical team were airlifted south along with whatever that elusive culprit was that was hiding in her heart.
The culprit didn’t, however, hide for long. The medical detectives discovered a tumor in the right ventricle that would have to be removed. Emergency surgery was ordered; it began; it was harrowing, but the outcome was excellent.
Alicia and that December day in Texas is not the end of her story, it is the beginning of her legacy that continues to help New Brunswick families fighting serious childhood illness to this day. It’s also a story of human kindness. When things look the darkest the light of human compassion usually penetrates the gloom.
In addition to the gloom of the medical challenge, the family’s road was filled with financial potholes. Initially, there was no help from the Provincial Government so medical and travel expenses reached astronomical levels, exceeding $100,000. The family gladly took on this challenge willing to do whatever was necessary for their daughter, even to the extent of taking out a $25,000 mortgage on their home.
The Community’s compassion, however, kicked in and filled those financial potholes to overflowing, covering the Goudreau’s expenses and leaving some left to benefit other sick children.
The surplus money gave birth to The Alicia Children’s Fund with Matthew Murray of Moncton the first child to receive financial assistance for travel to IWK. In the ensuing four years to 1992, the Alicia Fund helped 100 families providing transportation, meals and lodging for families who faced financial difficulties while seeking treatment for their child. “I can tell you a few lives have been saved because of this,” said Ray Goudreau. “We would like to see the Alicia Fund continue to do the same thing for years,” Patti added.
Patti’s wish was granted, when in 1995, The Moncton Lions club amalgamated with the Alicia Children’s Fund and it became the Moncton Lions Club Sick Children’s Fund under the leadership of Lion Roland Drisdelle. The Moncton Lions Club recognized the new union when King Lion Chris Courteau presented Drisdelle with an inaugural donation of $50,000.
It’s been onward and upward for the Fund ever since with Moncton Lion Ron Paschal playing a huge role in its success over the years. While the principals have evolved it’s still going strong.
Evidence of the Fund’s strength is the enduring support it receives from the public, corporations and area High Schools who have supported the Greater Moncton Dragon Boat Festival fundraiser for the past 13 years.
An extraordinary shout out goes to the High Schools as they have embraced the cause raising hundreds of thousands of dollars – young adults helping future young adults – it doesn’t get any better than that.
The Moncton, Riverview, Hum Lew Sun, Shediac, Magnetic Hill and Dorchester Lions Clubs also deserve a special thank you for their help.
Together, the Greater Moncton community team has touched 986 families’ lives helping them with $1.22 million in treatment related expenses.
All this and one more. The Fund has come full circle, little Alicia, now grown up Alicia Goudreau, is an active member of the Lions Sick Children’s Board of Directors. Who would have thought.
As the song says, “It’s a Wonderful World.” It really is.