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Woman whose daughter has leukemia receives car as gift

  • Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013 by employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, far left, works. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, Guyotte makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013 by employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, far left, works. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, Guyotte makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Nicole Guyotte was surprised with a car on Wednesday afternoon, May 1, 2013 by employees at Prototek Sheetmetal Fabrication, LLC, where her boyfriend Adam Civiello works, far left, works. The mother of two, Annabella, 6, and Alivia, 4, Guyotte makes several trips each week to Dartmouth to keep up with care and monitoring for Alivia's childhood leukemia. Through a crowd-funding website, area businesses, anonymous donors and employees raised and matched donations for the purchase of the vehicle.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Shortly before 4 p.m. yesterday, a crowd of about 60 people formed in the parking lot of the Prototek sheetmetal plant on Burnham Intervale Road in Contoocook. Darlene Isabelle, a co-owner, told everyone to huddle in front of the sparkling white 2011 Nissan Altima parked in the front of the lot and adorned with red and silver balloons.

The plan was to wait for Nicole Guyotte, the girlfriend of a machine operator there and the mother of two little girls, one who was recently diagnosed with leukemia, to drive up in a friend’s car. Guyotte was borrowing the vehicle because hers has been breaking down regularly and she needs something reliable to make three to four weekly trips from her Laconia home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for her daughter Alivia’s medical treatments.

The new car was a gift, the result of a monthlong fundraising blitz that had garnered the offerings of everyone from employees of the plant to local business owners to strangers who had heard of the family’s plight on the internet.

After a few minutes, Guyotte pulled into the lot, and, as planned, everyone parted ways to unveil her new vehicle.

It seemed perfect, except for one thing: Guyotte, not

realizing what was happening, drove right past the crowd and circled around to the back end of the lot. As far as she knew, all she was doing was dropping a friend off at the plant.

Quickly shifting to a backup plan, everyone shuffled around to the other side of the Nissan, the side that was now facing Guyotte.

As Guyotte emerged from the friend’s car, holding Alivia, 4, and the hand of her other daughter, Annabella, 6, the crowd repeated its routine.

This time it seemed to work.

“Yeah, I was surprised,” Guyotte later said, after passing through the clapping crowd and exploring her new ride.

Asked whether this was a slight step up from her last vehicle – a 2003 Chrysler Sebring – Guyotte nodded affirmatively.

“A million steps up,” she said, as Alivia, shy from all the attention, nuzzled her face into her mother’s chest.

Guyotte and her family’s story has been one of resilience, said friends and her boyfriend of nearly a year, Adam Civiello. Alivia was diagnosed with cancer in September after Guyotte noticed her face was abnormally pale. She underwent immediate blood transfusions, Civiello said, and soon a first round of chemotherapy.

Since then, Alivia’s condition has been touch and go. She is still undergoing rounds of chemotherapy, and doctors believe she has developed a tethered spine, which can cause lower back pain and weakness in the legs, possibly as a result of the treatment.

The medical trips have been a full-time job for Guyotte, and she has had to stop working in order to make everything work. When her Sebring began breaking down in the past month or two, the situation became a lot more difficult.

“When you have a sick kid and you’re at the grocery store, you can’t afford to be waiting around for a friend to come pick you up or your boyfriend to get off of work,” Civiello said.

So Civiello and Guyotte’s sister, Valerie Guyotte, who lives in New York, started raising money for a new vehicle. Valerie Guyotte set up an online crowdsourcing site and linked it through Facebook. Civiello asked co-workers for contributions and persuaded his boss to match whatever funds he could raise. Soon, gifts were pouring in left and right.

“It just exploded on Facebook,” Civiello said. “People who don’t even know Nicole are donating parts of their checks for the rest of the year to help pay for gas.”

Prototek, which is owned by Isabelle and her husband, Bruce, donated $5,000.

Mike Spofford, an employee at the plant who was present for the giveaway, said he found the level of help his employer had given, in both funding and organizing the event, admirable.

“I think it’s pretty awesome,” he said. “I don’t think many other companies would do this.”

As for Alivia, who everyone calls Livi, she seems to be persevering through the ordeal.

“She’s like the sweetest kid ever,” Civiello’s daughter Maryah said. “She tells the funniest jokes.”

Guyotte’s mother, Margaret Chandonnait, was also at the event and described what this gift meant for the family.

“I’m just amazed at how many people care,” she said. “This mean’s Livi’s life.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319,
jblackman@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

Now here's a nice story for a change.

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