$1 million needed for heart transplant
By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- In January, Marie Andree St. Amour was told she only has 12 months to live.
For most of her life, Mrs. St. Amour had dedicated countless hours to helping Haitian women in her home country become self-sufficient. After the 2010 earthquake, which devastated the region, she worked with women living under tents, and started a feeding program for children, ensuring they received a hot meal two to three times a week.
However, shortly after the 2010 disaster, she was diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy, an infliction that recently led to a team of heart specialists breaking the news that she only has a year to live. Her only saving grace is a heart transplant that would cost the mother and wife upward of $1 million, as she has no health insurance.
As a way to save her dying mother, Florida Institute of Technology business student Yielleen St. Amour is turning to the Brevard community to try and offset some of the costs for the surgery.
On Friday, April 19, the Florida Institute of Technology Nathan M. Bisk College of Business is sponsoring a walkathon to help raise part of the $1 million needed for a new heart for Mrs. St. Amour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campus.
"My mother is an honorable woman, who has been serving the Haitian community her entire life," Yielleen said. "She has done good to so many people, and I feel like it is now time to give back to someone, who has dedicated her entire life to helping others."
Yielleen's effort to save her mother resonated with Andrew Cudmore, COB associate professor, who lost his father to heart disease and his mother to cancer.
"Yiellen's struggles resonated with my own memories of the pain and the feeling of helplessness," he said in a press release. "I had a spur-of-the-moment thought of what could I do? What skills could I offer? A walkathon popped into my head. I am so pleased at how fast our students, staff, alumni and people from the community have been willing to help."
Organizers said the short walkathon will begin at Panther Plaza at Florida Tech and end at the SUB Café on campus. There will be a DJ, donations table and snacks and water for walkers. Spectators will also be able to purchase light snacks and beverages from food services.
Yielleen said she has currently raised $3,249 on the www.giveforward.com website and about $7,500 through the Vine Ministry nonprofit organization.
The projected goal for Marie's operation is listed as $535,000 on giveforward.com. $3,249 is only one percent of the needed goal.
For those who wish to make a donation through the vine industry, the St. Amour family asks to note the donation as being "for Marie's surgery."
As a family, Yielleen said they have already contributed $100,000 of their own money, which has only scratched the surface of the projected $1 million for the transplant.
"Have a heart? Give a heart," Yielleen said. "She is a mother to me and a mother to so many others in Haiti. Please, help save her life."
Donations for the operation can be made at www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/b032/savemarieslife