“As much as this is such a heartbreaking thing for everybody that knows and loves Tyler,” says Emily Larochelle. “At the same time, it’s also been heartwarming to see how wonderful this community has been in stepping up for one of its own.”
Larochelle was speaking about her colleague, Tyler Leavitt, a dedicated Respiratory Therapist at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer.
Upon learning this devastating news, friends of 37-year old Leavitt, set up a GoFundMe page that has raised over $100,000 in just days.
“Within 10 hours the GoFundMe had hit its initial goal of $50,000,” said Larochelle. “And so many people wanted to continue to help … so this decision was made to increase it to $100,000, which was done in a couple of days and is still continuing to amass.”
Tyler, a husband and father of three young children, is the family’s breadwinner so all money will be used to help the family during these most trying of times.
“Tyler has been primarily the money maker for the family,” said Larochelle. “And I have seen him work so hard, extended hours to keep his kids and wife Kristal, clothed, fed, happy, and able to do all those sort of activities that young kids should be able to do.”
Besides the ongoing GoFundMe page, Larochelle says a friend of Leavitt’s oldest child, 11-year old Ruby, set up a lemonade stand and raised $400 in one day.
Then on Monday, Banana Hammock held a donation drive for the family.
“In health care we spend so much time with people that are very sick, especially Tyler working as an RT (Respiratory Therapist), in his job, everyday he sees people in the worst moment of their lives,” Larochelle shared.
“Many people have been saved by him whether they know it or not, especially when you are looking at those intensive care patients,” she said.
“Tyler has been pivotal with the care of so many patients … And now he’s in the worst moment of his life, so as sad as this is, it’s an opportunity to help him out.”
Leavitt is also a long-standing member of the hospital’s High Acuity Response Team or “HART” for short.
HART is stationed in Trail, and involves an RN, an RT and the ambulance being called to all corners of the West Kootenay to bring the sickest patients back to the city, or to larger centres, for specialized medical treatment.
“We are scheduled 7 a.m.to 7 p.m., but if a call for a sick patient comes in late in the afternoon, we are going,” said Larochelle, an RN and member of HART.
“We’ve all had shifts where we are working 24 hours just to get patients where they need to go. And Tyler, especially.”
As of press time Monday, the campaign had raised more than $100,000.