The tragic death of a Saint John-area teenager almost four years ago has led to the birth of a movement to educate the public on the issue of severe allergies.
Caroline Lorette died in 2014 following a severe allergic reaction to dairy.
Since her death, the Sweet Caroline Foundation was founded and a scholarship formed in her memory.
“We’re amazed every time we look at it,” said Caroline’s father, David Lorette.
“Caroline died in July of 2014 and the community just rallied around us and really supported us as a family.”
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An annual scholarship received a recent and symbolic donation of $44,444 and put a big dent in the scholarship fundraising goal.
“Four was Caroline’s favourite number,” said David Lorette. “So this person knew Caroline, at least this family knew Caroline well enough that they knew that four was such a significant number.”
A school pilot program is a key part of the education program and the foundation’s goal.
“Do the kids know to use an EpiPen first? Do they know that to make sure that they’ve got a little more compassion? Do they know how and when to use an EpiPen?” explained Jonathan Barry, chair of the Sweet Caroline Foundation.
The education program is expected to reach the national stage next year.
This year, however, is an especially difficult one for the Lorettes. Graduation ceremonies take place next week.
“She should be on that stage graduating with all her friends and she won’t be,” David Lorette said.
Caroline’s memory will remain at Rothesay High School. A bench at the front of the school bares her name and a mural decorates one of the hallways.
The 2018 yearbook is also adorned with memories of Caroline, something school officials say speaks highly of her friends and classmates.
“You take a curve ball and what they have done with that is they kept her memory alive and they’ve raised allergy awareness at the same time,” said Andrew Peters, acting principal of Rothesay High School, near Saint John.
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David Lorette says despite all the good work that has happened, there is no replacing a child.
“My wife and I [were] sitting on the couch last night and basically crying, saying you know we have friends that have their children graduating and we’re giving out scholarships. You know we love the fact that we are giving out scholarships but I would trade it all just to have Caroline back.”
More information on the foundation can be found at sweetcarolinefoundation.ca.