Rob Tétrault continues to work tirelessly to raise awareness about eradicate congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Tétrault’s son, who is now eight, was born with CMV.
The St. Boniface resident was talking to The Lance ahead of the fifth instalment of Le Classique, which will be held on Feb. 10 and 11 at Festival du Voyageur grounds at Whittier Park. The event is billed as Western Canada’s largest winter outdoor 3-on-3 ball hockey tournament.
The event is the Canadian CMV Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser and has allowed the organization to continue funding CMV vaccine research. Tétrault is the chair of the foundation.
Since its first year, the tournament has continuously grown at an impressive pace by adding teams, divisions and activities to the weekend, Tétrault said. This year, Le Classique will feature five divisions — novice, competitive, corporate, women’s and co-ed — and there will also be a big social on the night of Feb. 10, as well as activities for children on the afternoon of Feb. 11.
Tétrault described CMV as a debilitating congenital birth defect that can cause serious diseases in babies who were infected with CMV before birth. About one in 150 children is born with the congenital CMV infection, which can cause a wide range of neurodevelopment disabilities in babies, he said.
"I’m deeply passionate about eradicating CMV," Tétrault said.
"It can touch a lot of people, so I think it’s important to raise awareness about it in the community. I’m also grateful that we’re able to partner again with Festival du Voyageur, which means we’re able to continue creating an event that we hope can make a difference."
Tétrault said his dedication to the cause is driven by a passion to help others and is fuelled by a work ethic that was installed by his parents.
"Whatever I do, I deeply care about it. I love life, and I love that I’ve been given the opportunity to things that I love, so I’m blessed. My son is doing really well and we’re fortunate because it was caught at birth. Other people have not been so lucky. It’s clear that we’re at the lucky end of the spectrum. This helps me stay motivated, because my kid is one of the lucky ones, so I can empathize with others that haven’t been so fortunate. My son has some brain damage and deficiencies, but he’s going to a regular school. In fact, you could meet him and not know there was anything wrong with him," he said.
Tétrault co-founded the event with Marc Foidart in 2012, and for the first three years it was held in the parking lot of Le Garage Café on Provencher Boulevard.
While the deadline for team registrations was Feb. 7, Tétrault said individuals can still inquire about spots on teams. And non-playing community members are more than welcome to attend Le Classique, he added.
Go online at leclassique.ca for more information about the event.
Visit cmvcanada.com to learn more about CMV.