Features(Archives)

Oct
01
2014
Volume
-

Gentle Giant Continues to Inspire Goodness

(1 Vote)

I WAS INNOCENTLY WALKING THROUGH the Suncor Community Leisure Centre when Sheila and Kallie Chartrand yelled out, grabbing my attention. They were volunteering at a table selling what looked to be a children’s book of some kind. That moment was my first introduction to the Schobrine and a story of remarkable resilience and heart.

Sheila, Kallie and Ray experienced the worst nightmare that any of us could imagine. Their son and brother was driving into town from Saprae Creek on December 20, 2010, intent on doing some last minute Christmas shopping with his buddy Neil Bursey.

“As I watched Corey walk out the door, I never imagined that it would be the last time I saw my son alive,” said Sheila. “Three hours later, there was a knock on our door and two RCMP officers and two members of Victim Services informed us that our son was in an accident, and that he did not make it.”

“After Corey died, Mom and Dad were inconsolable, as you can imagine,” said Kallie. “My dad had said he had lost siblings, his parents, but nothing was as devastating as losing a child.”

Described as a person with a heart of gold, Cory, or “Big C” to his friends, was a giant of a man. At 16-years-old, he was a lumbering 6’ 6” and 300 pounds.

“He was drawn to people in need and it did not matter what they needed as he would unselfishly give whatever it was…his time, his lunch, the jacket he was wearing, and everything included a smile,” said Sheila.

It was a couple of months after the funeral that the Chartrands had a call from John Foy with Kids Forever asking for the family’s permission to donate $40,000 to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre as part of their “Keeping the Memory Alive” program – donations are given across the province in memory of children who have passed away. This act of kindness was a catalyst that marked an almost immediate shift.

“We were asked to attend the Kids Forever banquet that fall,” recalled Sheila. “We have been huge advocates ever since. I felt compelled to help in any way that I could.”

“Mom had a Eureka! moment,” said Kallie. “She approached me and asked if I still had all the pictures for the story and as luck would have it they were still in my room in a file in my desk.”

Kallie was 10 years old when she began drawing illustrations to go with “The Schobrine”, one of several stories that Sheila had written based on real life circumstances, often titled with completely made up names.

“You have to read the story to find out what the title means,” said Sheila.

As Kallie grew older, and eventually started nursing, the illustrations were no longer a priority. Everything changed as the idea of turning the story into an actual children’s book dedicated to Corey came into focus.

“For the first time in two years since Corey left the physical world, I began to draw,” said Kallie. “Corey was with me again on this journey and my purpose and passion for the arts began to ignite.”

“The Schobrine” is the first book in the “Come Over To My House” series, which will continue to raise funds for Kids Forever. The second book, “Goonchba”, is almost finished, a story about what happens if you fight with your siblings.

The family has emerged from a great darkness that descended from out of nowhere on that fateful December day.

“After the accident, we were in shock, disbelief, agony, anger, numbness,” remembered Sheila. “It has been 43 months since I lost my Corey and every day has been hard as the pain is always there. Nothing will bring Corey back to us but I refuse to have him only be a part of our past. My gentle giant, my Hercules, will come forward with us while continuing to help others.”

The boy with a heart of gold who gave selflessly in life, continues to give in death, through the inspiration he provides for his family. “The Schobrine” has already sold 1,000 copies. It’s a wonderful read and deserves a spot on your child’s bookshelf. You’ll find great joy reading it aloud, time and time again.

To find out more about how this family is turning great tragedy into great goodness, giving back to their community, visit www.comeovertomyhouseseries.com. You can find out what the heck a Schobrine is by picking up your copy of the book at a number locations in town listed on the website.

RUSSELL THOMAS

Russell is a 19 year resident of Wood Buffalo, a community builder, facilitator, social media practitioner, actor, director and artist. He began his Middle Age Bulge blog as a way of capturing his journey to wellness. It has morphed into a daily journal about all aspects of life in the north. Russell works with The United Way of Fort McMurray and co-owns Birdsong Connections with his wife Heather.

Website: middleagebulge.com/

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