Danielle Leduc with her mother Anita and son DavidDisability studies major Danielle Leduc (right) with her mother Anita and son David, in a photo commemorating her 2012 selection as “Chatham’s favourite mother.”

Food Services staff hoping to make season bright for student’s ill child

Her son may suffer from multiple medical challenges, but there is nothing wrong with his heart, says disability studies major Danielle Leduc.

“David is just the most loving child a mother could ever wish for,” she says. “He is such a trouper.”

The boy has undergone dozens of surgeries to counter the complications of a disorder affecting many body systems—VACTERL Association can encompass vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities.

The seven-year-old defied doctors’ predictions that he might not survive even one day. He faces the prospect of as many as 100 surgeries to help him reach adulthood, Leduc says.

“But when he knows he has to go back to the hospital, he just stand up straight and says ‘okay, Mommy’,” she says. “What right do I have to complain about anything when after every major surgery he wakes up with the greatest smile?”

His story touched the hearts of staff in the University’s Food Services, who have been collecting toys to give David the merriest of Christmases. Gayle Chevalier, who works in the CAW Student Centre Marketplace, counts herself among Leduc’s friends.

“We just wanted to do something to help,” Chevalier says. “When we put out the word, the response has been amazing.”

She credits the support of her co-workers in CUPE Local 1001, but adds that organizers welcome additional contributions.

“David is really tech-savvy and we would like to be able to encourage that with some electronics,” she says.

To make a donation to the toy drive, drop by the Marketplace or phone 519-253-3000, ext. 3269.