Family at a loss for words as community support pours in

When dealing with a tragedy, sometimes the littlest things make a big difference.

By JOSH ALDRICH

Advocate staff

When dealing with a tragedy, sometimes the littlest things make a big difference.

Ghislane Moreault — whose husband Eric Cote, 46, died when they were involved in a multi-car pileup on Hwy 2 — has experienced a lot of caring over the last week since their tragic story came to light.

Moreault, 44, and her two daughters Patricia, 11, and Marilou, eight, have received donations of all kinds, from money to vehicles to a freezer full of food.

“I really can’t believe it, it’s unbelievable,” she said.

The story of the Cotes goes beyond Eric’s death. Moreault and the two girls all suffer from a hereditary disease called neurofibromatosis Type 1. Benign tumours form in the skin and throughout the body, including the eyes, brain, spine, in muscles and over nerves.

It can cause learning disabilities and other physical ailments like scoliosis. There is no cure.

They were on their way to Calgary for a doctor’s appointment for Marilou’s scoliosis on March 7 when the crash happened.

Due to a number of medical circumstances with Eric over the past decade that kept him from working, and disputes with insurance companies and the Workers’ Compensation Board, they lost their house last year and spent the summer living at a campground.

They are now in low-income housing in Red Deer.

On the weekend, a group of local businessmen who want to remain anonymous bought Moreault a 2013 Ford Explorer with the help of Legacy Ford in Ponoka.

There is also an account at the Alberta Treasury Branch (account No. 712-00265716300) where people have been donating money and web page not yet launched will help make donating easier.

“Money would be the only thing that we need now, because she won’t be unable to work so we’ve got to secure her and her family down the road,” said Michel Cote, Moreault’s brother-in-law.

One of the big goals is to come up with a long-term solution to their housing situation.

Red Deer businessman Craig Howes, who happened upon the fatal collision and held Eric as he died, brought a freezer full of food prepared by his neighbour over to the Cotes on the weekend.

“My neighbour’s cooking can make anybody feel better. It’s like the best cooking on Earth.”

He has also rallied together a large group of his friends, businessmen in Red Deer and Calgary, as they focus in on the family’s long-term financial stability with a few different plans in the works.

“(The web page) will globalize the effort and push the story out there for them,” said Howes, who is the president and co-founder of Go Tire inc. “They’re going to need help and support on an ongoing basis.

“(Sustainability) is the imperative component. Their health is a situational thing, it’s not that they have control of it and they’re now in a spot where the major breadwinner is no longer there and there’s three survivors left with massive health care needs that, in some cases, components of health care are not covered.”

Howe’s efforts and impact on the family has not gone unnoticed.

“I have no words for what he is doing,” said Cote.

“And the fact he was with Eric in the last minute when he passed away, and he told him that (Moreault and the kids) were safe and it was OK to go. He had his last breath and went in peace.”

jaldrich@bprda.wpengine.com