Inspired By Everett

Inspiration can come to us from anywhere – and it was the spirit and memory of a friend’s young son who passed away, that inspired Matthieu Bonin to take on a challenge to build a legacy of light as a way to remember Everett Cacciotti.

Evvy, as he was affectionately known, was just three years old when he passed from a rare heart defect last summer. During his short life, Evvy endured a plethora of tests, procedures, surgeries, and stays in hospital, which he bravely faced with the support of his family and health care team.

“He was a great kid who expressed such positive energy, all while going through more than what most people will ever experience in their lifetime,” said Matthieu. “I was heartbroken when Evvy passed away and I wanted to find a way to keep his spirit alive and help other kids, like him, get the best care at NEO Kids.”

Matthieu took on a personal challenge to swim across Lake Wanapitei to raise $4,000 for the NEO Kids Foundation to make a difference in the lives of other children in honour of Everett. Although swimming was not part of Bonin’s repertoire of activities, he was determined to train with focus to achieve his goal.

“We were blown away by Matt’s determination and energy to help keep Everett’s memory alive and help other kids who are going through similar circumstances,” said Kristofer and Lesley Cacciotti, Everett’s parents. “Evvy received great care at NEO Kids and he thrived during the time he spent at the Children’s Treatment Centre.”

Early in the morning of Matthieu’s swim, it was dark and the water was cold. “It took a while for my nerves to calm down, but the first half of the swim was smooth,” said Matthieu. It was during the second half when the waves picked up and there was a strong current that made the swim difficult.

Matthieu had a support team riding alongside him in a boat. “I had Kris as my motivator, Pat who made sure I was fueled with food, and Dan who was my captain,” said Matthieu. “When I didn’t know if I could make it any further, Kris pulled out a picture of Evvy and showed it to me. It was seeing Evvy’s smiling face that helped me push through what I was feeling physically and focus on the reason why I was doing what I was doing.”

Matthieu went on to complete his NEO Kids swim for Evvy in just over six hours. He surpassed his $4,000 goal and raised over $12,000 for NEO Kids – while helping others to find inspiration in Everett’s story.

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