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‘Le Gym à Zach’: Community supports West Island family’s memorial for late son

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The community of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is coming together to help a local family build an outdoor gym in memory of their son. Global’s Brayden Jagger Haines has the story – Jul 23, 2021

The community of Ste-Anne-De-Bellevue has come together to support a local family’s project, raising funds for an outdoor gym that would be installed in memory of their late son.

Through a Go Fund Me campaign, in less than a week, the Richard family has nearly reached the $48,000 goal.

The money will be used to erect an outdoor workout area in Harpell park, honouring their son Zacharie Richard.

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Zacharie, only 20 years old, died from a heart attack last June.

“We’re still trying to understand,” mother Annette Vézina said.

She describes her son as an extremely health-conscious person who was always staying active in various outdoor actives and sports.

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“He was an avid cyclist. He could get on his bike and cycle to Ottawa and cycle back the next day,” Vézina said.

Zacharie’s father, Burno Richard, who came up with the idea to build a fitness area, after remembering how his son frequently used the facility at the nearby McGill campus.

“Zacharie really loved training and working out and sharing those moments with his friends,” Vézina said.

The family contacted Trekfit, a Montreal-based company, and Vézina said she got a response immediately.

“Everyone at Trekfit was very touched by her email and her intention. So it was really a no-brainer to jump in full on and support her any way that we could,” company president Eric Tomeos said.

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The new facility will be completely funded by donations. Already the community has thrown its support behind the family and the gym.

Handwritten signs with donation boxes have been set up in the city, along with the online fundraising page.

“I think the outpouring of support is heartwarming but at the same time, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is a small town with a big heart,” Vézina said.

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Slated to be installed in the Harpell park, right at the entrance into the city, the family says the community at large will use the space.

“I think that it will entice people to use it more, knowing they helped fund it and build it,” Vézina said.

Paola Hawa, the town’s mayor, says she “wholeheartedly” supports the initiative, which has received city council approval.

Construction on “Le Gym à Zach” is expected to be completed by the end of fall.

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