Defender Karl W. Ouimette’s sister Julie, who fought cancer for 12 years, passed away last Monday. She was about to turn 21. The Impact acknowledged her passing with black armbands for Saturday’s game at the Houston Dynamo.
The LA Galaxy are, alas, also in mourning; A.J. DeLaGarza’s son, Luca, died from hypoplastic left heart syndrome last Thursday a mere week after his birth.
Julie had been battling Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This rare type of cancer required her to undergo multiple bone marrow transplants and hundreds of blood transfusions.
Yet Julie’s will to live never dwindled. She was a champion for several causes linked to her condition, including blood donation awareness and support for young adults dealing with cancer. Social commitment has become a family trait. Her mom Nathalie has vowed to carry on Julie’s mission, while her brother Karl has been a spokesperson for the Shaved Head Challenge that raises funds for young cancer patients and clinical research.
“I’ve known Karl for a number of years,” defender Wandrille Lefèvre, an Impact Home Grown Player like Ouimette, told reporters on Monday. “We knew about his sister’s situation. We were shocked as we learned the news when we got to training last week. It was even more of a shock given that Karl wasn’t with us.”
Ouimette was in Toronto with the Canadian national team, which is scheduled to play this Tuesday night against Jamaica. Though he did come back to Montreal for Julie’s funeral on Friday, there were no plans for Ouimette to re-join his club teammates. This international game, head coach Frank Klopas said, is “something positive that he was looking forward to.”
“When he comes back, being here with us, I think it’s going to be the same way: we’re his second family, and I think that we’re all hurt by the circumstances,” Klopas said. “It’s a very difficult one, and we just have to be there to support him. But I know that being out on the field is probably something that he wanted to do right away.”
Ouimette should be back in Montreal this Wednesday for the game against LA. The short turnaround means Klopas is likely to rest him, but there’ll be support for Ouimette whether he plays or not.
“It’s important to know that Karl’s sister came to every game,” Lefèvre said. “She followed the Impact closely. She was very involved with what happened with the team. Obviously it would have done us good [if last weekend’s game had been in Montreal]. But we’re back home this Wednesday, and we could do something nice.”