The power of children to do good things is sometimes underestimated, but a young Shuswap girl named Charlie O’Brien showed her community an inspiring display of compassion and kindness at Carlin Elementary Middle School on Friday, Dec. 7.
In September of 2017, a baby girl in Salmon Arm named Alice Wolter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. In the coming months her family, parents Korinna and Jeff and brother Anthony, awaited a bone-marrow donor for a transplant. It was eventually decided her brother Anthony was the closest available match for a donor, and a transplant was scheduled for Nov. 6 at the B.C. Children’s Hospital. In June of 2018, despite chemo treatments and the bone-marrow transplant from her brother, Alice passed away at just over two years old.
Charlie knew Alice, and wanted to keep her memory alive and do what she could to honour her friend and support the Wolter family. After a special performance by the Salmon Arm Secondary concert and jazz bands at Carlin Elementary, Charlie spoke to the crowd of students, teachers and the Wolter family about what Alice meant to her, and what she has done in her memory.
“My name is Charlie, I want to tell you about a sweet girl, her name is Alice. From the moment I met Alice I fell in love with her, and how could you not? She is the cutest. Alice was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in September of 2017. At that moment I wanted to be there for Alice and knew I wanted to cut my hair to help fundraise,” she began. “Alice’s journey was very bumpy and she fought hard but she passed away in June. I knew I still wanted to do something. Alice is someone so special to me and I want no one to forget who she is or the fight she had. I have raised money to keep Alice’s legacy alive in all of us, so that we will never forget. I had a goal of raising $1,000 and then I would cut my hair off. Thanks to my friends and family I have done just that and I am still taking donations. Please help me in keeping Alice here in our hearts forever.”
Through her fundraising efforts, Charlie was able to raise more than $2,000 in Alice’s memory, and also donated eight inches of her hair to the Canadian Cancer Society after making her speech. Charlie’s mother, Jeannine, says she is extremely proud of her daughter and the work she has done for such a good cause.
Alice’s father, Jeff, spoke after Charlie to say thank you on behalf of the family and reveal that the family has set up a bursary in Alice’s honour to help support young children who do what they can for a good cause.
“I had a lot of things to say but I think Charlie summed up a lot of them. They have been a huge support for us, the community that surrounds us in the Salmon Arm area, the Carlin area; we are very fortunate to have had such good support here,” Jeff began. “We have started a bursary called Alice’s Angels and every year we are going to donate $1,000 on the 16th of April to a child that is outgoing and does extraordinary things in the community, that will be put into a trust fund for when they are 18. That’s one thing we are trying to do to keep Alice’s legacy going.”
The bursary will be available for children between the ages of 10 and 14, and more information will be available regarding the bursary when the family finalizes details.