LETHBRIDGE – For Toby and Bernadine Boulet, time may pass but the legacy of their son Logan and the impact of his passing continues to resonate, in Lethbridge and around North America, thanks to his connection to organ donation.
Logan Boulet was one of sixteen hockey players killed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash on April 6, 2018, and prior to the crash, Logan shared with his parents his desire to donate his organs.
That led to a wave of awareness around organ donation spreading, inspiring more than 100,000 Canadians to register their intent to donate, and has come to be known as the ‘Logan Boulet Effect’.
His legacy will be honoured this Friday, Feb. 22, when his mother, father, and sister Mariko will drop the ceremonial puck at the Lethbridge Hurricanes game against the Medicine Hat Tigers to promote organ donation.
To have Logan still be top of mind for some people because of his connection to organ donation can sometimes be overwhelming, Bernadine admits.
“To know the impact that Logan has made on other people, and on the whole for organ donation programs across Canada. Every province has its own programs, so just to know what he has done, it really is overwhelming.”
For dad Toby, as well.
“It’s overwhelming the fact that Logan chose to become an organ donor because his mentor Ric Suggitt passed away, and he was an organ donor. Two simple acts, Ric becoming an organ donor first and then Logan, and the Logan Boulet effect has just jumped right out. Social media has allowed it to be positive, and people coast to coast and in North America have been impacted.”
And when Toby says North America, he means it.
“I got a message from a gentleman in Boston yesterday that Logan will always be remembered, and it literally said, ‘if you haven’t heard of Logan Boulet yet, then where have you been because this is going on in the Boston area’. That’s pretty cool.”
Friday night’s event is part of the work the Kidney Foundation does in conjunction with Don Cherry to promote organ donation and raise funds for the Kidney Foundation of Canada through a series of Western Hockey League games.
Each city gets to host a game, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes felt it was a perfect fit to invite the Boulet family to drop the puck.
“We know people in the Hurricane organization, and they came to our house with a mock-up of the jersey,” Toby explained. “It had #LB27 on the sleeves, “The Logan Boulet Effect” on the inside of the collar and they said ‘we’d like to do this, are you OK with it? Would you like to drop the puck? Would you do that for us? And we said yes, yes, yes’.”
The Boulets then asked if they could have one of the jerseys, and do they have number 27?
“We don’t go to many Hurricanes games because we’ve been going to Humboldt games the last three years, and this year we just don’t go to many games. It turns out that number belongs to Logan Barlage, who’s from Humboldt, so that was cool, and they said they’d make one for our Logan,” Toby stated.
The players are all having their nicknames on the backs of their jerseys for this event, and the Boulets asked if they could have Logan’s nickname on the back of it.
“His hockey nickname was ‘Bouls’ and because there were three Logan’s that were on the team last season, so anytime you talk to any of the survivors that’s how they talk about him,” Bernadine said, adding that’ll be on their backs on Friday.
The jerseys with each player’s nickname across the back that the Hurricanes will wear will be special Don Cherry-themed, and the jerseys will be auctioned off online with all proceeds going to the Kidney Foundation of Canada (Southern Alberta) for organ donation.
While gifts to the Boulet house have tapered off quite a bit, though some are still delivered to the Humboldt Broncos and then shipped out to families, they still receive a lot of supportive messages from people they’ve never even met.
“We still get cards in the mail, Facebook messages, private Twitter messages, text messages or a letter in the mail. Even walking through the mall or shopping somewhere, someone will come up to us and say ‘I recognize you, you’re Logan Boulet’s mom and dad, I just want you to know what he did is amazing. My uncle had a heart transplant, my brother had a kidney transplant and they’re survivors and we’re so happy’. That always makes us take a step backwards,” Toby admitted.
Bernadine says not receiving the gifts so much anymore is fine, because they’ve got a lot of them as it is taking up a full room at their home, but the powerful interactions with people haven’t stopped.
“We get messages every so often, and I just got a Facebook message a couple weeks ago from a dad whose daughter is doing a report on Canadian heroes.”
The little girl was from Winnipeg, and she’s currently in Grade 4.
“She chose Logan as her hero, and she wanted to know if they could connect with us to ask questions to put her PowerPoint presentation together. She asked a whole bunch of questions, and her mom said she was highly motivated after she learned that she could connect with us. I got the whole list of questions, replied back to them, and today I just received an e-mail with the PowerPoint presentation. Even that is just an honour, to have Logan be acknowledged by a little girl who’s nine years old in Winnipeg that chose him as her Canadian hero.”
It’s not just little girls in Winnipeg either, as Toby explained that at Picture Butte Highschool they had three or four students in a class who did the same type of assignment.
“It was put on Twitter, so we connected with them and the teacher, it was amazing. That people want to recognize Logan, and the gifts we’ve received are amazing and wonderful. People want to reach out to all 29 families, in particular, the 16 that have passed, but even the 13 survivors are still receiving invitations to things. Like one of the boys is going to an air traffic controller hockey tournament in Toronto, and he’s going to be dropping the puck and speaking. I don’t know if there’s a relative involved or what, but that’s another one that’s pretty cool,” Toby said.
The Boulets have also had some interesting and different things that they’ve been approached about as well.
“The least connected thing that we’ve had is Toby was contacted by these people in Northern Alberta who do the 2nd Chance Trail Ride,” Bernadine explained. “They do a 10-mile trail and wagon ride, have a banquet, and they raise money every year to help them support four apartments that they rent in Edmonton by the University of Alberta hospital.
“When you have a transplant, you are in Edmonton for like a whole month depending on if it’s a live transplant. That’s like a kidney or a liver, and you have to be in Edmonton for a certain period of time beforehand and after the transplant is over you have to stay there for a period of time. They fundraise to support these apartments and food vouchers, and gas gift cards. They’ve asked us to come be a part of the trail ride, and while we aren’t exactly trail riding people, we will ride maybe or go in wagons and we’ll be able to talk at the event. It’s interesting the connections that we’ve had.”
It’s not just money being given, according to Toby, it’s the people asking them to go somewhere too.
“We’ll go there and support, to do what we can do, to help their organization out the best we can.”
The Flin Flon Bombers, another team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, recently held a fundraiser and they sent every family $557.80 from it.
“Well, thank you very much,” Toby said, before mentioning that they took that money and donated it. “We always donate $270, like Logan’s number 27, so we sent half to Logan’s KidSport fund and the other half to STARS. I wrote a card back to the Bombers thanking them very much for the donation to our family, which I then told them that I gave away,” Toby continued, adding if people gift them money, they generally gift it away.
While Friday night’s game between the Hurricanes and Tigers will offer good visibility for the cause of organ donation, it’s what could be possible in the future that really means the most to the Boulets about their son’s legacy.
“Well, hopefully in 10 years the Logan Boulet effect will just be there because they will have solved organ transplants some other way, maybe all transplants will be live instead of requiring angels. Right now, the Logan Boulet effect and the Green Shirt Day is very honouring to our son, we were approached by the Canadian Transplant Association to let them use Logan’s name and we agreed to it.
“So, we’re helping them as much as possible to promote organ transplant awareness and organ donor registration awareness. We’re very proud to have that happen, and we’re very proud that all of our friends, family and people across North America are jumping on board to support because those are issues that need to be solved,” Toby stated.
Bernadine picked up on that point, adding the numbers are very low, and they just hope that they continue to grow.
“Because for every person that registers it increases the chances that the people who are waiting for a transplant will get it. That will be Logan’s legacy, to help these people who for no reason of their own are in need of an organ transplant.”
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