Ballet troupe hands over proceeds to The Montreal Children’s Hospital In tribute to the team that cared for Nicholas Pitcairn

A troupe of Montreal ballet and ballet jazz dancers with the Westmount Sports and Recreation Centre have been putting on their toe shoes and taking to the stage on a yearly basis to showcase their talents. For the last ten years, proceeds from La Soirée de danse have been handed over to the The Montreal Children’s Hospital, particularly the Palliative Care Service.
“At first the proceeds were quite modest,” recalls Sheila Lawrence, a former ballerina and the choreographer of La Soirée de danse. “In 2000, the show generated a mere $400 in revenues. I decided to give it to The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation as a token of appreciation for the incredible care given to my grandson Nicholas.” To date, La Soirée de danse has generated $12,000 proceeds which have been given to the MCH Foundation.
Ms. Lawrence’s grandson Nicholas Pitcairn passed away three-and-a-half years ago, at home, surrounded by his loving family. He was only 17 years old. Since birth, Nicholas was in and out of the MCH due to neurological problems. He was wheelchair bound and unable to talk. 
“As a baby, when Nicholas would have a particularly violent seizure, my daughter Jennifer would call the ER. Then she would pile Nicholas in the car and drive like mad from the West Island to the hospital. When she arrived a team would be standing waiting at the door with a crash cart, they would usher in mum and baby. Someone would even go park her car,” she remembers.
Ms. Lawrence is overwhelmed by the care her grandson received and extremely grateful.
“Nicholas was prone to pneumonia and he was in and out of the ICU more times than I can remember. The nurses were astonishing,” she says, “so absolutely caring.”
While Nicholas could not communicate with words he did manage to express himself physically. His grandmother recalls with a smile the antic he would pull when, after a long day at the hospital, they started heading towards the exit: Nicholas would smile from ear to ear, push out his feet from his wheelchair as if to say “Yeah, no more prodding and poking and no more needles - I’m going home!”
In 2006, it was becoming clear Nicholas was dying, and Jennifer wanted her son to be at home. The Pediatric Palliative Care Team did everything possible to accommodate the family’s desire. Jennifer was given the number of a pager and told she could call any time of the day or night. Ms. Lawrence remembers when her daughter would call the pager someone would call her back within two minutes. “I’m not sure other hospitals do this. It was really amazing,” says Ms. Lawrence. She was very impressed by the team in palliative care. In the last three years, she figured palliative care likely didn’t get a lot of financial support because death is not a subject people want to think about. So, she started directing the proceeds from La Soirée de danse to that service. 
“Dr. Liben and the team were just wonderful to us,” recalls Ms. Lawrence. “They exuded warmth and they normalized the situation for us. They didn’t just take care of Nicholas; they took care of his entire family.”
“We are incredibly grateful to Ms. Lawrence and her family for their support of the Palliative Care Service,” says Dr. Stephen Liben. “We use the money in a variety of ways. With the funds we can offer the families under our care a little extra. For some families this might be a stroller, a special car seat, a lazy boy or even an air conditioner. We use the proceeds from the La Soirée de danse to make people’s lives a little more comfortable.”