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EOCF awards its largest grant ever

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

Ethan Moreau spends some time with kids during the University presentation
Ceremonial puck drop with (left to right) Dean Al Cook, Kevin Lowe, Ethan Moreau and Doug Goss.
- photos by Ryan Jackson
by Marc Ciampa

Christmas came early Wednesday afternoon for Dr. Carol Boliek and the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta.

"It came very early and very big," said Dr. Boliek after a $135,000 grant from the Oilers Community Foundation was presented.

The grant will be used to help equip her pediatric speech physiology laboratory in Corbett Hall.

"The money will actually go directly to this laboratory," she said. "The aim of the laboratory is to continue to understand how kids learn to talk. Were specifically interested in the kids with cerebral palsy."

The grant was the largest ever presented by the Oilers Community Foundation and also the largest ever received by the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the U of A. It will enable Dr. Boliek to continue in her important research.

"The first aim is we continue to discover how these kids have rewired themselves to communicate the way they normally do," she stated. "The other prong is to actually do some serious interventions with these guys to see if we can get them to be even better oral communicators – taking concepts of intensive physical therapy and apply it to the speech system."

Dr. Boliek figured there are around 500 children with cerebral palsy and about 1,500 children with traumatic brain injuries that will benefit from this research.

"We work very hard on the voice and vocal loudness. Weve known that to transfer into actual functions so that they talk more after their therapy, theyre better understood by their peers and theyre better understood by their family members and their teachers.

"Its a two-pronged approach were taking. One is discovery and one is trying new interventions," she continued. "Were about halfway there, and this (donation) puts us over the top."

Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe was at the presentation and felt proud to be a part of an organization that is doing its part to make this type of research possible.

"The Oilers organization has been giving for years and now that the Community Foundation is together and operating over the last few years, its helped us be a little more organized and a result grow even bigger," said Lowe. "Now we have the means, fortunately enough, to be able to give these types of donations."

The ability to play a part in such important research at the University of Alberta and the fact that the Oilers and U of A have been intertwined for many years wasnt lost on Lowe.

"The U of A is a wonderful part of our community and its essential that we focus and try to help them," he said. "In turn, this donation is going to go to health and wellness for young people with cerebral palsy and having success and breakthroughs in that is just wonderful."

Oilers forward Ethan Moreau was also on hand for the ceremony and was able to do his part, visiting with some patients as the teams representative.

"This faculty and this building have been really important to the Oilers. Im actually going through it right now with my shoulder rehab. Im on the lower level with Dr. McGee I come here every morning and do my rehab," said Moreau. "Theyre very familiar with the building so its good to see some of the moneys coming here."

He also went on to note the importance of having an Oilers player take part in the ceremony.

"A lot of times we dont really know a lot about the events we go to but when you come and get to spend some time with some kids who are excited to see us, it makes it fun for us."

The ability to help kids like those who visited with Ethan is what helps drive Dr. Boliek and her research.

"We always need external funding to do the type of research that we do," she said. "We go to peer review and we go to the federal agencies to help us do the work but when a community foundation believes in you like the Oilers believe in this it means the world to us. It has a very different and special meeting."
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