9:30 a.m., May 18)
Louis-Riel staff and students rally to support
school custodian diagnosed with cancer
By Fred Sherwin
school custodians go about doing their jobs in relative
obscurity. They keep the hallways free of litter, clean
the classrooms and unplug the occasional clogged toilet.
In most schools the students barely give them a second thought.
so at École secondaire Louis-Riel where the staff
and students have rallied to support school custodian
Henri Mallette who was diagnosed earlier this year with
Stage 3 terminal leukemia.
Louis-Riel custodian Henri Mallette gets set
to drop the ceremonial first puck prior to
the start of Friday's game between the Louis-Riel
Rebelles girls hockey team and their teachers.
Fred Sherwin Photo
honour of Mallette and motivated by two of their own whose
cancer is in remission, the students began to raise money
in their fight against cancer. Their initial goal was
$3,000. Several teachers offered to have their heads shaved
if the students attained their target, while others offered
to dye their hair, or get a mohawk. They all happily complied
when the target was reached.
the students didn't stop there. They kept raising money
and by Friday they had raised nearly $6,000, effectively
doubling their original goal.
fundraising effort culminated in a hockey game between
a few brave staff members and the Louis-Riel Rebelles
girls hockey team which won the OFSAA provincial championship
400 students, or roughly half of the student body, were
on hand at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex to witness
the game which the girls easily won 7-3, much to the chagrin
of the teachers' assistant coaches and cancer survivors
Dennis Gudbranson and Nick Lanzer.
first star of the game went to an extremely appreciative
and emotional Henri Mallette who could barely hold back
the tears when talking about what the students' efforts
mean to him.
made me feel wonderful, that they would do something like
this for me. I thank them from the bottom of my heart
I can't believe it," said Mallette who's been a custodian
at the school for the nearly seven years.
diagnosis and fundraising effort has turned the once relatively
anonymous school janitor into somewhat of a celebrity.
lot of students will say hi to me in the hall and the
girls want to take their picture with me. It's been pretty
good to tell you the truth."
for the leukemia, Mallette said he plans to fight it until
either he kills it or it kills him.
a fighter. I'm not going to quite. I'm going to fight
it all the way and I'm going to live for another 20 years,"
said Mallette, who recently renewed his wedding vows with
pastor who presided over the ceremony was diagnosed with
the same type of cancer when she was in her early 20s.
Twenty-five years later she's alive and well and the mother
of two daughters.
fundraising effort and the hockey game was organized by
first year teacher Karina Potvin. She was looking to put
together an event to celebrate the girls' triumph at OFSAA
in March when she heard about Mallette's diagnosed. Putting
two and two together she decided to organize a fundraising
campaign around a hockey challenge between the girls team
and the teachers.
believe that it's important to for the school and the
students to give back some how, and with Henri's diagnosis
it gave us all a cause to rally around and the students
really bought into it to the point where we've doubled
our original goal," said Potvin.
principal Claude Pierre-Louis couldn't be prouder of his
staff or his students for pulling it all together.
really incredible to see the students mobilize they way
they have and to see our teachers and staff buy in and
have their heads shaved. They've surpassed every objective
and I know Henri is very appreciative of everything they've
done," said Pierre-Louis.
the game and all the formally presentations dozens of
students went out of their way to shake Mallette's hand
or give him a kiss on the cheek before boarding the buses
and heading back to school.
the last student had left. Mallette walked to his car
with the 1st star trophy and the game puck clutched tightly
in his hand.
story was made possible thanks to their generous support
of our local business partners.)
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