"HE'S DONE SO MUCH FOR US NOW IT'S OUR TURN TO LOOK AFTER HIM"
KELOWNA – Christina Richard was just 11 years old when Eric Lavoie entered her life in 2003 and changed it forever.
Her mom, Sophy Zaglis, 49, was raising five kids on her own, working as a registered nurse and volunteer with the Salvation Army in Kelowna. With her ex-husband no longer in the family and tragedy in their past, they faced a difficult road ahead. That was when Zaglis met Lavoie and everything turned around.
“Eric stepped into our lives and helped rebuild our broken family,” Christina says. “He stood by us through everything and has always provided for the family.”
Late last year, ten days before Christmas, Lavoie, 39, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite numerous rounds of chemotherapy, his cancer has spread to his liver and bones. Doctors have given him only months left to live.
Now Christina, 26, herself a mother of two living in low-income housing, has managed to give him and her mom the wedding of their dreams.
“They’ve been engaged for nine years but my mom was a single mother and they’ve been too busy to get married,” she says. “My parents also live in low income housing and have done everything possible to get all their children through college so we can become successful in our lives. Now it is our turn to help and take care of our parents in their time of need.”
When Mamas for Mamas executive director Shannon Christenson heard about the wedding, which will take place at Rutland Centennial Hall Saturday, Aug. 22, she put the word out and was flooded with offers from residents and local businesses eager to help make this dream come true.
The local charity held a bottle drive last weekend and secured two local wineries as wine sponsors. They also raised money for accommodations, food for the 200-person reception dinner, a limo for the wedding party from Okanagan Limousines, a professional photographer, and a team of decorators.
Richard estimates she’s received more than $10,000 worth of drinks, food and decorations from roughly 50 businesses and individuals around the Okanagan.
“It’s emotional. It’s exciting,” she says. “It really restores your faith in humanity and most definitely makes me excited to give back to others.”
Now that the wedding is becoming a reality, Richard says she is grateful for the time she has had with the man who has helped her family so much.
“I would bet my life that not one person Eric Lavoie has ever met, known or lost would have anything but great things to say about him,” she says. “He’s done so much for us now it’s our turn to look after him. Success in our family has never really been geared towards having copious amounts of money. Success to us means loving our family and doing anything necessary to take care of each other.”
Donations to the family of Eric Lavoie can be made through this GoFundMe page.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com or call 250-718-0428. To contact the editor, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-718-2724.