A Lethbridge man is being recognized nationally for inspiring Logan Boulet, one of the victims of the Humboldt Broncos crash, who in turn inspired a movement.
Ric Suggitt was the University of Lethbridge women’s rugby coach. He started almost immediately after his family moved from San Diego, where he coached the rugby women’s national 7s, in October 2015.
Keegan Brantner is a student and plays on the U of L women’s rugby team. Suggitt recruited her to the team from high school.
“Ric was a larger than life person,” she said. “He was just a big teddy bear. He was a large man and a big personality that almost everyone at the university knew who he was.”
Unfortunately, his time coaching was short lived. Ric died from a brain hemorrhage in 2017. It happened while he was driving one of his kids to swimming lessons.
His family didn’t realize it at the time, but their next decision would stretch farther than they ever could have imagined.
“Right before my dad passed away we had been having conversations,” said one of his daughters, Rhyannon Suggitt. “And one of the conversations was about organ donation.”
Ric wasn’t a registered organ donor. But his family remembered that conversation and made the decision they knew Ric would have wanted.
Logan Boulet, who was being trained by Ric at the time, heard about the organ donation.
Bernadine Boulet, Logan’s mother, remembers her husband, Toby, telling her the story of how it came up. Toby and Logan were in the backyard one night when Logan turned to his dad and said that when he turned 21, he wanted to become an organ donor.
“Toby said he just kind of brushed it off and said, “nobody will want your organs when you’re 80 yearsold. But go ahead, sign your organ donor card.”
Tragically, Logan died in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018. Bernadine didn’t know about the conversation he and Toby had had until they were at the hospital in Saskatoon.
“Logan was inspired by Ric and the decision that Jenn and the family made.”
News of Logan’s decision to become an organ donor sparked a movement known as the Logan Boulet Effect. In the weeks following the crash, it’s estimated that 150,000 Canadians registered to become an organ donor.
Ric unknowingly sparked a movement, that was then spearheaded by Logan. And on November 29, it was recognized nationally during the Honouring Canada’s Lifeline 2021 awards put on by Canadian Blood Services.
“When we found out that Ric was going to receive the Logan Boulet Award we were very touched because that’s really where Logan’s story would start from,” said Bernadine.
And for Ric’s family, they’re happy to know that his selfless decision is saving lives across the country.
When the family went to the hospital to donate his organs, they were shocked to find they were the only family on the ICU floor there to donate. And after, how few people register or make the decision to do so.
Rhyannon has decided to become an organ donor because of her father. She remembers when he passed away being scared by the process and second guessing her decision, but quickly realized it was outweighed by the good.
“I got to spend extra time with my dad in the hospital because we donated his organs,” she said. “We got to call the hospital after and ask how my dads organs were doing, which was a nice way to kind of keep connected to my dad for awhile. We got letters from a few of his organ recipients and I started to think more about that stuff rather than the actual organ donation.”
Brantner was one of the people impacted by Ric and Logan’s story. After talking to her parents, she made the decision to become an organ donor.
Taking it a step further, Brantner is also a plasma ambassador for Canadian Blood Services. She organizes team donations for her rugby team and tries to go once a month.
It’s a conversation the Boulet’s and Suggitt’s hope more families have before it’s too late.
“Maybe you haven’t registered to be an organ donor yet, but please talk to your families about what your wishes are because it makes it easier,” said Jenn Suggitt, Ric’s wife.
Brantner remembers Ric’s lesson to be kind to everyone, remembering how he would always stop to say hi to everyone, whether it was a custodian, university staff or anyone who made the teams training possible.
“I think that that just speaks largely to the selflessness that he had to donate his organs.”
Seeing Ric and Logan’s impact on the country has been, of course, inspiring, but at times also difficult.
“I’m always mindful of the fact that two families lost their person quickly and tragically,” said Jenn. “As honoured as we are to receive this award on Ric’s behalf, we would trade it in a second for even one more moment with Ric. My kids lost their dad and the Boulet’s lost their son and brother. Living with this loss, even in the face of the lives that were changed with Ric and Logan’s organ donation has been debilitating at times as we search to find peace and joy.”
For more information on how to become a blood, plasma, organ and/or tissue donor visit the Canadian Blood Services website.