That question was uppermost in the mind of Michelle Olivier as she stood to address the crowd gathered in a Montreal ballroom on November 13, 2008. The occasion was a gala fundraiser for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Five months earlier, Michelle’s husband, Daniel Hurtubise, and their teenage children, Alex and Sonia, and friend Robert Carrier had embarked on The Ride of a Lifetime, a cross-Canada cycling trip in support of JDRF. Daniel had been diagnosed with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes at age 15. Now, at 50, the Montrealer had spent months planning a trip that he hoped would generate $500,000 in pledges to fight the chronic disease.
But on June 29, just two weeks into the odyssey, the cyclists were struck by a car just east of Virden, Man. Daniel and Robert were killed. Sonia, then 16, broke her leg and Alex, then 19, escaped with only minor injuries.
Michelle, who had been handling logistics for the trip in Montreal, immediately flew to Manitoba. When she saw her children in the hospital, one of the first things they said to each other was, “This movement can’t stop. We have to continue.” And so they have.
With JDRF, the family worked on a fundraiser in February 2009, under the heading The Ride of a Lifetime Lives On. Friends of Alex have mounted fundraisers of their own. This June, Michelle, Alex and Sonia will all participate in the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes. Between the money raised during the early stage of the cycling trip, proceeds from the November gala and other fundraisers, Michelle figures they’re about halfway to Daniel’s $500,000 target.
The family continues to seek fundraising opportunities, and, says Alex, who will study civil engineering in university in the fall, “We won’t stop, even after we pass half a million.”
“We won’t stop until we find a cure,” Sonia quickly adds.
“Their involvement really motivates people to get involved,” says Megan Davidson, chief operating officer of JDRF Canada. “They’re committed to this, heart and soul, and there’s a sense that Daniel’s spirit will carry on.”
Now, a year after The Ride of a Lifetime ended in tragedy, Alex and Sonia are talking about completing the trip one day. “We’ll start at the place where the accident happened,” says Sonia, who graduates from high school this spring. “We’d like to finish it-to raise the money, to raise awareness, and for our dad.”
As Michelle, Alex and Sonia create their own legacy of giving, Michelle continues to think of Daniel’s. “I realize as the days go by, the weeks, the months, how much Daniel succeeded in leaving us an extraordinary legacy,” Michelle said at the November gala. “Like a permanent mark that will stay with us, it will always remind us that nothing is impossible, that we shouldn’t be afraid to follow our heart, follow our passion, and make it happen.”
JDRF continues to accept donations in honour of Daniel Hurtubise. Go to www.jdrf.ca.
Make It Matter…More: Walk With Us
Reader’s Digest is a proud sponsor of the TELUS Walk to Cure Diabetes in:
June 14, 2009
Canadian Exhibition Place (CNE), at 10:00 a.m.
June 14, 2009
Centre de la Nature de Laval, at 10:00 a.m.
We’re proud to be raising funds for much-needed research to help the more than 240,000 Canadians living with Type 1 diabetes. So lace up your sneakers and show your support by walking along with our team.
For more than 70 other Walk to Cure locations in Canada, please go to www.jdrf.ca/walk.