• James Parry

St. Lazare sisters hold artistic fundraiser for youngsters suffering from PKU


Sisters Candace Lapointe and Debbie Sarjeant will be providing all art materials for their PKU fund-raiser on Saturday, September 24.

Its medical name is Phenylketonuria (PKU). It is a rare, inherited metabolic disease that results in developmental disability and other neurological problems when treatment is not started within the first two weeks of life. And in Canada, it is said to affect about one baby in 12,000.

Including the two year-old grandson and grandnephew of two St. Lazare sisters - Candace Lapointe and Debbie Sarjeant - who through their family owned business, Artetvino, provides inspiring, stress-free, guided painting sessions for both youngsters and adults alike, and who will be hosting a guided painting fundraiser for the Canadian PKU and Allied Disorders Association to which all are invited on Saturday, September 24, from 11.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Zee Grub, 2970 Harwood in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Says Sarjeant, a professional member of the Canadian Art Therapy Association, “The initial diagnosis was not only shocking but heart wrenching as we watched the first-time parents' loving care for this beautiful child.

“People with PKU are missing an enzyme to break down protein in food, specifically one amino acid called phenylalanine (PHE). Since this amino acid cannot be completely processed, it builds up in the blood and excess amounts cross the blood-brain barrier. When excess amounts build up, brain damage and other neurological problems result. Sadly, this damage is irreversible.

Adds Sarjeant who has also worked at a number of senior care homes as director of activities, “Children and adults with PKU must follow a severe diet under medical supervision. One that involves strictly controlling the intake of natural protein, drinking a synthetic phenylalanine-free formula - known as medical food - and eating special low protein foods.

“The proceeds from our fundraiser will be used to help support and educate parents and kids in coping with the challenges of a specialized diet, and preparation for the child's eventual transition to independent self-management.”

Says Lapointe, “In our specific case, thanks to the amazing staff at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and the wonderful support of the Canadian PKU Association, our grandson is a healthy little boy. Which is obviously one of the reasons why, through our fundraiser, we are so pleased to support this non-profit association of volunteers, dedicated to providing accurate news, as well as information

and support to families and professionals dealing with PKU. It also inspires hope and encourages everyone with PKU to cope and live productive, happy lives.”

She adds that all art materials at the fundraiser will be provided and everyone attending will go home with their very own 16” x 20” masterpiece. Cost is $35 per person.

For more information, go to www.artetvino.com or call the sisters at (514) 913-2180.