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Fundraiser for three-year-old exceeds expectations

Aug 12, 2014 10:45 am | By Janani Whitfield | St. Paul Journal

When a co-worker of theirs recently lost his wife to cancer, the employees of Shamrock Valley Enterprises Ltd. decided to pitch in with an online fundraiser that ended up far exceeding expectations.

Nadia Ouellette, wife of Blaine Farrell and mother to three-year-old Julia, became suddenly progressively ill and passed away shortly after on July 14.

Nadine Weir, a dispatcher at Shamrock, notes she has been working with Farrell for about eight years.

“When Nadia got sick, I was actually on shift,” she said, adding, “I was on shift when she passed away.”

She began talking to some of the employees on shift that day, and all agreed they wanted to do something to help the family. Even though she had never met Ouellette, she felt as if she knew her through hearing so much about her over the years.

“It just affects everybody deeply,” she said, noting especially how hard the loss was for Farrell.

“Now he’s a single dad with a little girl. He’s lugging his baby in the morning,” she said. “It tears my heart out.”

Shamrock’s fluid manager Garth Letestu was in Columbus, Ohio, at the time of Ouellette’s passing, and came home with a Columbus Blue Jackets jersey, signed by his son, NHL player Mark Letestu. That jersey ended up being sold for $1,850 on a Facebook auction, along with other items such as tickets to Cavalia, a spa package, a golf membership, and more. The online auction along with other donations and a week’s worth of fundraising ended up providing at least $13,000 to go towards an education account for Julia, with a total amount yet to be calculated.

“I think the biggest thing is that it’s amazing how everybody, all the fluid haulers pulled together,” said Weir. “We had guys donate a whole day of work. It’s huge. Right there, that says a lot.”

“They said, ‘What’s one day work? At the end of the day, we still get to go home to our family,’” she said, noting that the same was not true for Farrell.

It was his wish that any fundraising go towards his daughter, she explained, adding, “It’s just one of those things he might not have to worry about when Julia graduates. It’ll be a big help for her.”

Anyone wanting to make donations to Julia’s education fund can do so by mailing Shamrock Valley Enterprises Ltd., making any cheques payable to Blaine Farrell, said Weir.

She noted organizing the event helped everyone feel as if they could help out in some way, noting, “It’s a small thing for us to do . . . I can’t even imagine what Blaine is going through. It’s a whole lot for a young family.”

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