MONTREAL, July 17 /CNW Telbec/ - The event currently taking place in
Montreal is the first of its kind: 12 young people from 9 countries are
visiting the city to celebrate life and meet with Céline Dion. The children
were chosen by a team of Reader's Digest correspondents to take part in the
Faces of Love project, the goal of which is to raise funds for various causes
endorsed by Céline Dion, including the CHU Sainte-Justine, the Toronto
Hospital for Sick Children and UNICEF. For these children, who have gone
through so much, a true fairy tale is in the making.
Chris, Milagros, Martunis, Anna, Elisabeta, Samu, Miles, Mario, Donald,
Fanni, Andrew and Mary Justin, along with members of their families, are
spending a week fulfilling their dreams in Montreal. These children, who have
always wanted to see Niagara Falls, go for a helicopter ride or meet an
Olympic champion, have had a chance to do all this and more during their stay.
Everyone remembers little Martunis, discovered alive, 19 days after the
tsunami, on a beach in Sumatra. He kept himself alive for three weeks by
eating berries and drinking water from puddles. When Milagros was born in Peru
with her legs joined together from her hips to her ankles and her feet spread
out in a V like the fin of a fish, her chances of survival were slim.
Immediately dubbed La Sirenita-the Little Mermaid-by the media, she took her
first steps in October 2006. And how can one forget Mario, severely burned
after his father immolated himself? After being rescued from the flames by Luc
Fleurant, a St Adèle policeman, Mario spent two years in hospital and
underwent some 30 operations. Both of his legs were amputated, and he only has
stubs left where his arms used to be. Now 13, Mario is happy to be alive and
to be able to go to school. He is the ambassador of this incredible project,
which became a reality last Monday. We all have a lot to learn from the unique
stories of these Faces of Love children.
In addition to taking part in a one-of-a-time experience, the children
also had an opportunity to join Céline in a personal photo session directed by
famous photographer Heidi Hollinger. The exceptional lives of these children,
who have overcome challenges to go on living with courage and determination,
are immortalized in pictures and words in a book, a calendar and greeting
cards. The book, entitled 12 héros parmi nous and published by Publications
Charron, will be launched in August of this year. The calendar and a series of
greeting cards will be on sale everywhere, starting in September.
In order to ensure that all of the proceeds from the net sales of these
products go to the children, a special Young Heros Fund was created to help
cover the cost of bringing the children to Montreal and to pay for all the
other expenses associated with this large-scale undertaking. It is thanks to
the generous contribution of over 65 Quebec businesses that the organizers are
today able to declare "mission accomplished."
"Children from all over the world are facing horrendous hardships. By
telling the stories of the 12 little heros who have overcome fear and
suffering, Faces of Love offers a positive outlook on life," says Martyne
Huot, founder of the Réseau Familles d'aujourd'hui and the brainchild of this
project. "The determination of these children provides a lesson in courage for
each and every one of us and should prompt us to refocus on the basic values
of our society, " adds Ms Huot.
"We already know about Céline Dion's long-standing commitment to the
Cystic Fibrosis Association, as well as her affiliation with the CHU
Sainte-Justine-she and her husband, René Angélil, were the spokespersons for
the CHU Sainte-Justine's most recent fund-raising campaign. What is not so
well known is the fact that Céline is actually involved: she meets with sick
and injured children, comforts them, shares their pain and fear, and brings
them that which, more than anything else, can help change their lives. Their
hope, determination and strength is largely derived from contact like this,"
explains Georges-Hébert Germain, who wrote the preface for the book written by
12 well-known Quebec authors and personalities.
A few figures
Collectively, our young heros travelled over 114,000 kilometres, or three
times around the globe, to meet with Céline Dion and take part in one of the
most fabulous international get-togethers ever staged. The $578,000 price tag
for the organization of this one-week event was covered by donations of cash
and goods and services from Quebec businesses. A total of 297 people were
involved in the event-31 alone just to find young Martunis in Indonesia-and
57 volunteers devoted an estimated 4,600 hours of their time.
Available for an interview and photos:
Junior Lemire, Canadian hero and ambassador of the Faces of Love project
Martyne Huot, Designer of the Faces of Love project
Nathalie Racine, President of the Young Heros Fund
Hugo Desmarais, Maria Leppanen, Young reporters for the Réseau Familles
Carine Marcotte, Chaperone, Little Heros Committee
Roxanna Lopez, Consul General of Peru
For further information:
For further information: Martyne Huot, Réseau Familles d'aujourd'hui,
(450) 945-1799, firstname.lastname@example.org