Eric Dostie

Honoring a Little Boy and a Great Man

Last week, I traveled to California, for an exclusive showing of the wonderful movie “Bombardier Blood” to employees of NuFactor, the hemophilia distribution program of FFF Enterprises. We gathered at the Omni Resort in Carlsbad, where Chris Bombardier and I marveled at the brilliant blue skies, warm sunshine and swaying palm trees. The movie was warmly received; there was a standing O before it even ended, in honor of Chris’s achievements! But the best moment for me was being able to tell employees the gratitude I have for their founder and CEO, Patrick M. Schmidt.

Laurie Kelley and
Patrick M. Schmidt

Patrick and I have a long history, meeting on August 12,1995, when he was attending a business meeting in Boston. He called me the previous week, out of the blue—I had no idea who he was. He said he had heard of me, saw my books, admired my work and independent stance (I was not part of an HTC, specialty pharmacy, manufacturer or nonprofit. Back then, you were one of these). He was just entering the hemophilia community, and wanted to pick my brain. So we met over a cup of “chowda” in downtown Boston. I found Patrick sincere, eager to get involved, and respectful. And he remains so to this day.

During lunch, he asked me a question that reverberates today: What can I do to make a difference?

It happened that I was still reeling from the murder the previous summer of a beautiful little 5-year-old boy. On a hot summer day in August 1994, I was leaning against my kitchen counter and opened the Boston Globe. The headlines screamed that a little boy from Easthampton, Massachusetts had been murdered. According to his stepmother, some strangers entered the house a few days before, on a quiet Saturday, smothered the child with a pillow, hit the stepmother in the head, and left the baby in the crib unharmed. Nothing was taken. There were no footprints, fingerprints and no one saw anything.

The greatest shock was that I knew this child. He had hemophilia. His grandmother, Jennie Gosselin, had been sending me photos and stories to publish in a children’s newsletter I once had, called “Factor Fun.” The headlines dominated for the week, until the stepmother was arrested for premeditated murder. She remains in prison to this day, and will be for life. The reason she killed this child? His medical bills were too expensive, and she wanted another child but couldn’t afford one.

This touched Patrick deeply. That a child would be murdered because his medical bills were too expensive was abhorrent. Also, Eric was the same age as his daughter, Natalie. I can see even now the look of horror and dismay on his face as he considered all this. Did he want to make a difference? I suggested a scholarship in Eric’s name, so that he would not be forgotten. Patrick immediately approved. The scholarship is now in its 23rd year! It has helped hundreds of students attend college.

Eric Dostie with grandpa George

I remained friends with Eric’s grandmother right up until she passed away two years ago. Before she moved to North Carolina, I would visit her in Easthampton and we would stop by Eric’s grave. She was forever grateful to a man she never met for his act of compassion and generosity.

If you are a US student with a bleeding disorder in your family, you can apply for the Eric Dostie Memorial Scholarship. This year’s application is closed, but mark it on your calendar for the fall, when you can apply again. And check out our scholarship page on our website, which lists even more you can apply to.

Many thanks to Patrick M. Schmidt for his friendship, mentorship and support. The movie “Bombardier Blood” showcases Chris’s climbs, but also the work we do at Save One Life. Patrick, by the way, is our number one sponsor, supporting 180 children who live in poverty. And he is our top donor. He believes in giving children a chance in life.

He has changed so many lives around the world… including mine.

Out of Horror, Hope

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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