Greater Sudbury teen's shift from survival to recovery after being hit by a van
Joey Ayotte from the Greater Sudbury community of Hanmer. (Guy Ayotte)
SUDBURY -- A Hanmer family is expressing gratitude for the outpouring of community support after their teenage son sustained severe head trauma when he was hit by a van last week.
The night of May 26 changed the lives of the Ayotte family forever.
It is news that no parent ever wants to hear: Jennifer and Guy Ayotte say their son Joey was hit by a van while crossing Cote Boulevard on his bike.
They say it "was an unfortunate accident and there is nobody to blame."
Kaitlyn Dunn, corporate communications coordinator for Greater Sudbury Police Service, said that no charges have been laid in the crash.
Joey, a part-time competitive dancer at Project Dance, was immediately airlifted from Health Sciences North to SickKids in Toronto, where his mom says he underwent two surgeries in the first three days.
"Joey is a fighter," Jennifer said. "After day 6, we changed our focus from survival to recovery."
He will be at SickKids for around another month, she said, and faces a long rehabilitation process after that -- about three to six months at another Toronto hospital, Holland Bloor View.
"Joey, at the moment, is non-verbal, has no movement from the right arm, and limited movement in his right leg," his mom said. "He has no recollection of why he is here. Every time he wakes from rest, we need to re-orient him."
Family friend Brian Dwyer created a GoFundMe campaign to support the family in these difficult times. What started out as a goal to raise $5,000, has surpassed $20,000 in just five days through contributions from nearly 300 people.
"Guy has been a sports coach for many years in the community of Valley East and all the kids just love this family," said Dwyer.
"We would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts," said Jennifer. "We are overwhelmed by the love and support from our community, our friends and our families. There are no words to express the gratitude we feel for the meals people have dropped off to our children back home, the phone calls, the messages of support, and distractions for them like Dairy Queen and even fishing trips."
"People have helped with deliveries, yard-work, groceries, laundry and all of the things we had to leave behind so suddenly," said the mother of three.
The dance studio that Joey is a member of is also hosting a pay-what-you-can virtual dance class June 6, with the proceeds going to help with the dancer's family.
Despite the situation, the family remains positive.
"Although we don't know what challenges the road ahead will bring, we know that we can face those challenges bravely with all of your support behind us," said Jennifer. "Tough times never last, but tough people do…and Joey is tough!"