Approximately 500 people turn out to support “Connor’s Caravan”

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Vince and Michelle Laframboise knew there would be people that would support them when a fundraiser was held to support getting a conversion van for their son.

They were overwhelmed by exactly how many people did, in fact, attend.

Approximately 500 people attended a fundraising dinner Saturday evening at the Verdi Club to support “Connor’s Caravan,” an event designed to help pay for a new conversion van for the Laframboises’ son Connor.

“I don’t think overwhelmed covers it,” said Michelle, of Saturday night’s response.

Three-year-old Connor suffers from multiple sulfatase deficiency (MSD). MSD is known as a lysosomal storage disorder closely related to the mucopolysaccharidoses in which all twelve of the known sulfatase enzymes are deficient or inoperative. The ailment is caused by the deficiency of an enzyme, formyglycine generating enzyme that is in turn responsible for activating a group of different enzymes called sulfatases.

The rare genetic disorder, also known as Austin’s Disease, typically doesn’t allow a child to live past 10-years-old.

 

Vince said they are private people and that it took them a long time to “open up” about what the family was going through. He was extremely grateful for the support shown by Amherstburg and surrounding areas.

Three-year-old Connor Laframboise (bottom row, centre) is surrounded by his cousins during a fundraising dinner in his honour at the Verdi Club Saturday night. Over 500 people turned out to help raise money for “Connor’s Caravan.”

Three-year-old Connor Laframboise (bottom row, centre) is surrounded by his cousins during a fundraising dinner in his honour at the Verdi Club Saturday night. Over 500 people turned out to help raise money for “Connor’s Caravan.”

“There’s no words,” he said. “It’s really been remarkable the support they’ve given us.”

Vince added the “incredible” response would help “carry us forward” as well.

“This has done so much for us,” he said. “We know this is going to carry us for a long time, the feeling we have tonight.”

Michelle said the committee that planned it started working on the fundraiser “months ago” and that it grew to a size that probably few expected.

“I don’t think we knew how big it was going to be,” she said.

Michelle and Vince went through a long list of thank yous during the event with their families being included. They noted that their families have been suffering right along with them through the difficult times. Their mothers, said Michelle, are “both extremely strong, caring women.”

“There are so many people that have done incredible things for us,” Vince stated.

The van is on order and will cost between $42-45,000 once it is converted into an accessible vehicle. A final fundraising total from Saturday night should be known within the next week or two.

The Laframboise’s know the van will be a tremendous help when it arrives.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Vince.

Connor is getting bigger and the family is having increased difficulty getting him into a car seat. The new conversion van will be big for the family.

“It’s just so much better,” said Vince.

“Things with Connor change quickly,” added Michelle. “When things do change, the changes are big and fast.”

The staff at the John McGivney Centre have been a tremendous help, she stated, with the work being done there being invaluable.

“They are so encompassing of the kids gifts and talents,” she said. “They know what needs to be done. They do not get enough recognition for what they do every single day to the kids they serve.”

The House of Shalom was yet another source of comfort and support, the Laframboises said, with the House being thanked for the sense of community they bring.

Sponsors and donors were also tremendous, they said, with numerous prizes being donated ranging from VIA Rail tickets to barbecues among the many prizes that were part of the silent auction.

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