Real life hero
Family unveils Caleb’s Courage Superhero Suite at Regional Hospital
Nicole Forgeron and Mike MacArthur could hardly hold back their tears on Wednesday.
After close to two years raising money through fundraisers and donations, the couple officially held the grand opening of Caleb’s Courage Superhero Suite, a new fully renovated room in the pediatrics unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney.
The room, in memory of the couple’s three-year-old son Caleb MacArthur, who died from cancer in 2015, features bright colours with the main ones being orange and blue, those colours representing superheroes. It also includes a play area for children as well as a large, comfortable bed, television and superheroes on the wall.
“I know he loves this space, I feel it in my heart,” said an emotional Forgeron, wiping tears from her eyes. “He spoke to me as I designed this room and every detail is him. I’m so proud because I see him in every beautiful thing that’s in this space.”
The family started fundraising in June 2015 with the hope of one day building a room to honour Caleb and to support families of critically ill children in their own journeys through palliative care.
After many fundraising events, relentless work as well as the generosity of the Cape Breton community and support from the AVIVA Community Fund, the family raised more than $200,000 to make the room a reality. The event also featured a flagraising ceremony in memory of Caleb. The flag was expected to fly at the hospital throughout the day, before being presented to the family later in the day.
Brad Jacobs, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital foundation, said when the family approached the hospital with the idea of having the room in Caleb’s memory, the hospital didn’t have to think about it.
“When you have a family that has gone through a significant life experience and has lost a child and wants to give back, it was a no-brainer for us to try to help support them and facilitate whatever we could,” said Jacobs. “The family has created this tremendous movement that has rallied a community and has brought people together in a really significant way and it’s something that will live forever.”
The total cost of the project was $160,000, but Jacobs said you can’t put a price tag on the smiles shown on the faces of Caleb’s family.
“What’s really impressive about the family is their perseverance, determination and willingness to put themselves out there and tell their story about Caleb and to take what was the most absolute difficult time in their life and turn that into something positive and beautiful that’s going to help families in Cape Breton.”
The tour of the room was led by members of the family including Forgeron and MacArthur as well as their children Aubreigh, Emery, Ella and Lauchlin.
The new room doesn’t feel or look like a regular hospital room, which was one of the goals for the family when they designed it.
“The main goal of this space was that it be the opposite of a hospital room, because prior to doing the renovations that’s exactly what it was — we often called it a jail cell,” said Forgeron. “There was no character in the space, it was dull and there was no colour on the wall.”
“The other goal was to really make the room a familycentred space where the whole family or anybody who wants to come visit would feel warm and welcome,” she said.
The project was recently finished, this coming after months of hard work and dedication from three local community businesses, including Brilun Construction, Dora Construction and Joneljim Concrete Construction, who all volunteered their services.
Mike MacArthur was overwhelmed by the support the family has received with the project.
“It’s unbelievable for us the way that (the construction companies) partnered together and completed this project,” said MacArthur. “For them to be able to take Nicole’s idea and to develop it into where we are today, it speaks to us about the Cape Breton community, how they’ve rallied around us — it’s really hard to put into words.”
Forgeron had high expectations for the room. She said she is beyond thrilled with the end result.
“When I walked through the door it was absolutely everything and more that I had envisioned in my mind,” said Forgeron, with a smile of her face. “It’s a difficult thing because I had all of these ideas, but I didn’t have the talent or the skills to do it, but working with the team at City Printers and the graphic designers, they took my vision and brought it to life.”
Although the project is complete, Forgeron said this is just the beginning of more to come.
“Our goal is to make things more comfortable, to enhance services, programs and facilities for pediatrics palliative care,” she said. “Just like Caleb’s Courage, Caleb’s spirit will last forever.”
Aside from the new room, Forgeron and MacArthur are also working on a new fundraising event.
The third annual Celeb’s Kitchen Party is set for June 4 at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion in Sydney.
The event will take place from 2-5 p.m. with money raised going towards future projects for Caleb’s Courage.
More information on the fundraiser will be released shortly.
As for the new room, it will immediately be available for the use of palliative oncology.
“The family has created this tremendous movement that has rallied a community and has brought people together in a really significant way and it’s something that will live forever.”
Brad Jacobs, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital foundation,
The family of Caleb MacArthur sit on a bed in a newly renovated room, known as Caleb’s Courage Superhero Suite, in the pediatrics unit at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney. The family has been fundraising since 2015 to make the room a reality in memory of Caleb. From left, Nicole Forgeron, Emery MacArthur, Ella MacArthur, Aubreigh MacArthur, Lauchlin MacArthur and Mike MacArthur.
Emery MacArthur, middle, is shown giving Batman a high-five prior to a flag-raising ceremony at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney in memory of Caleb MacArthur. The event also featured the unveiling of a newly renovated room at the pediatrics unit at the hospital, known as Caleb’s Courage Superhero Suite.