Olivier and Gizmo

Olivier and Gizmo

As fundraising organizations try and make the best of a very bad situation during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Autism Speaks Canada has come up with an innovative way to keep their annual Dog Walk intact. The key word in today’s world is “virtual” and that was the way to move forward in this case.

On Sunday June 7, Canadians will be encouraged to walk virtually by playing fetch in the backyard, walking around the block or finding a quiet trail to explore, all while practicing physically distancing. “We recognize the vital role our dogs are having by providing comfort, companionship and keeping us active in these unprecedented times,” correctly points out Autism Speaks Canada Director Krista Leitham.

The national ambassador for this event is Olivier St-Amour, a 13 year old Town of Mount Royal resident who attends Collège de Montréal Previously diagnosed with ADHD, impulsivity and anxiety, further assessments uncovered an Asperger diagnosis at the age of 11. “This late diagnosis answered many questions we had had over the years and allowed Olivier to have a better understanding of his strengths and challenges,” said mom Heather McCoy. “Olivier is a sensitive soul, who loves to laugh and joke around.”

Olivier adores his dog Gizmo, a two-year-old poodle who is full of energy and spunk. “He is always around to brighten our day, and he brings a huge amount of joy to our lives,” said Heather. “He also provides unconditional love and friendship to Olivier, who is also a loving brother to his older sister Megan.”

So how is Olivier handling being off school for so long and self-isolating? “It has been hard changing routines,” he says, “but I have been passing the time by drawing, singing and spending time with my family and my friends over FaceTime. Gizmo and I have also developed a hide and seek game with covers. We play it every night before bed. I feel very lucky to have Gizmo. He fills my day with joy. He welcomes me when I wake up in the morning and snuggles me before bed at night.”

As for the Dog Walk, Olivier said: “it is important that people participate in the Virtual Dog Walk to help spread awareness about autism. This will increase acceptance and understanding for those struggling with different challenges faced by those with autism. It is important for people to realize the positive impact dogs or pets have on the lives of those on the spectrum.”

To register log on to: www.autismspeaks.ca/dogwalk.

COHEN CHATTER: Howard Galganov may have moved across the border to Toronto a few years ago, but he is still making waves via his blog and a podcast that aired more than two months ago. He sounds almost Donald Trumpish, asking how many of the predicted deaths thus far, which will be attributed to COVID-19 (which he calls by the same name Trump does), will actually be deaths caused by the flu or other health factors ...Pointe Claire native Gabrielle Fahmy is the newest video journalist for CTV Montreal. See my blog for a story on her…Businessman Mitch Garber spoke to the New Leadership Group of the State of Israel Bonds last week via Zoom. Alaa Daka, the star in the latest season of Netflix thriller Fauda, was part of a Zoom session with Hillel Montreal. I sat in on both and report on it in our SJN feature online….A follow-up to my column last week on the Mindstrong program for Mental Health. Please go to our new On Air video channel where I interviewed Dr. Karl Looper, Elizabeth Wiener and Lee Haberkorn CNN style! .. To nobody’s surprise the performances of Cats slated for August at Place des Arts have been postponed until 2021.

Something to share? Email mcohen@thesuburban.com, follow me on Twitter @mikecohencsl and on our blog section at www.thesuburban.com

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.