When his young son had to undergo brain surgery, Renaud and his family found a place to call home at RMHC Toronto

Renaud, who lives near Quebec City, Que., has been on a difficult journey since his son, William, was two and a half years old.

William started walking on his toes, a small quirk that gradually revealed something more serious. Renaud knew his son was a bit different, but he could never have imagined the challenges that lay ahead.

As William grew, he should have been getting stronger. Instead, his balance got worse, and he struggled with every step. Renaud and his wife, Amelie, searched for answers, taking their little boy for countless tests. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, leaving the parents feeling lost and frustrated.

“It was just random chance that we ended up talking to a doctor who specializes in rare genetic illnesses,” says Renaud. “A miracle.” She diagnosed William with KMT2B-Related Dystonia, a rare movement disorder. She administered a medication that had William walking again within an hour.

The medication had a remarkable effect, but little William still had challenges ahead. Preschool drained his energy, and then a devastating virus that had William sick for a month reversed all his progress. “It was a terrible Christmas that year,” remembers Renaud.

In January, Renaud and his wife, Amelie, made the tough decision to travel to Toronto with William, as well as their older daughter, Frederique, so that William could undergo Deep Brain Stimulator (DBS) surgery. It was a nerve-wracking time, with months of stress preceding the operation, but Renaud’s love for his son gave him the strength to keep going.

The surgery was a success, and William, who had been struggling to move or speak, started walking once again. It was an emotional moment that Renaud will never forget. As a dad, he was so proud of his little boy’s determination and strength.

During the two months they’ve been in Toronto, Renaud and his family have found a lifeline of support at RMHC Toronto. “We are so good here,” says Renaud. “We have been so welcomed, it’s incredible. We’re very lucky. Even in a hotel, there’s no microwave, no comforts of home. You’re eating out all the time. We have been so happy to stay at RMHC Toronto, and we’re amazed at just how generous and how human people are here.”

Renaud is so grateful that the whole family can be together to support each other through William’s ordeal. As a loving father, Renaud feels a responsibility to be the “captain” of his family’s ship, helping to guide all of them through this difficult time.

“It’s hard on my family. The stress of the surgery and being in Toronto when we come from a small town. I feel like I have to be the one to hold it all together, to tell everyone that it’s going to be okay. It’s a lot of pressure, sometimes it’s hard to eat or sleep.”

But with his family together, close to the care that William needs, it’s easier for Renaud to support all of them.

“If we get stressed or overwhelmed, we remind each other to take a breath, relax, and turn the page. We’re getting through it together.”

For fathers like Renaud, RMHC Toronto is there to provide comfort and support by compassionately addressing the physical and emotional needs of the entire family.

“The people here,” he explains, “everything they do is to help us. It’s a game changer.”

Without RMHC Toronto, the family would only be able to stay in Toronto for about two weeks due to financial constraints.

At RMHC Toronto, we know that fathers like Renaud are the rocks of their families. And this Father’s Day, you can ensure he has the support he needs.

When you make a gift to RMHC Toronto this Father’s Day, our generous donor Saputo will match your gift, doubling the impact of your support. With your help, dads like Renaud have a place to stay together with their families when a child needs life-saving treatment.

“We’re so lucky to have found this place,” says Renaud. “I don’t know what we would have done without it.”