A parent’s worst nightmare—their child is murdered. You might think that life itself ends, and a child becomes nothing more than brief memories. What difference can a child make in 5 years, except to his immediate family?
Imagine my shock when I opened the Boston Globe on a hot Monday morning in 1994, August 29th to be exact, and saw the blaring headlines that a little boy with hemophilia in Easthampton, Massachusetts was dead. I knew of this little boy. His family was on my mailing list; his grandmother Jenny had faithfully been sending me Kodak snapshots of him as he grew through his brief life. I pasted them in my hemophilia scrapbook.
According to police, Eric Dostie was in the care of his step-mother that Saturday, his biological father at work, when intruders broke in, tied her up, left their infant Emily in her crib unharmed, and smothered the boy with a pillow. There was no theft and no reason to kill a child. Police found no footprints, no forced sign of entry; neighbors saw or heard nothing. She was immediately a suspect, and a week later was arrested for murder. The case was strong when a neighbor came forward and said that the step-mother had once mentioned that she wanted more children, but Eric’s healthcare bills were too high. If only she could get rid of him.
Eric died the same year my youngest daughter was born, and the story shook me terribly. Not long after, I had lunch with a new business associate, Patrick M. Schmidt, president of FFF Enterprises of California. It was a meet and greet in Boston, having “chowda” at a seafood place. Patrick was just entering the world of hemophilia as a distributor of product, and wanted to know what he could do to give back to the community. His own daughter was the same age as Eric.
I thought of a lasting gift to the community, to keep Eric with us always. I proposed a scholarship in his name. When Patrick heard the story, it hit him hard that a little boy was murdered due to the cost of his healthcare—and at the hands of a mentally-ill step-mother. Patrick is an expert in healthcare and associated costs.
Almost 25 years later, the Eric Dostie Memorial Scholarship is still going strong, having helped hundreds of young people pay for college. We thought of a scholarship, because Eric once told his grandmother he wanted to be a scientist someday, and invent a cure, maybe a “chocolate pill,” that would avoid shots or cure hemophilia. He loved donuts, ducks and his family. He never got to meet his two half-brothers, both born after he died, but who both share the middle name Eric.
I was amazed to know that his half-brother Aaron, who I met several times as a child, is now on the committee to vet applications for the scholarship that bear’s his brother’s name. We recently became friends on Facebook.
It appears that a 5-year-old can have a lasting impact. Through the horror, there was hope. Thanks to Patrick M. Schmidt and NuFactor for sponsoring this scholarship, which turns 25 in 2019, and giving young people, and Eric’s parents, hope and permanence.
Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 Eric Dostie Memorial Scholarship.