Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Oliver Finlayson, 9, and big sister Avery celebrate the arrival of their new pool on Nov. 16, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Oliver Finlayson, 9, and big sister Avery celebrate the arrival of their new pool on Nov. 16, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Oliver Finlayson, 9, tries out his new backyard pool. (Submitted)Oliver Finlayson, 9, tries out his new backyard pool. (Submitted)
Oliver Finlayson, 9, tries out his new backyard pool. (Submitted)Oliver Finlayson, 9, tries out his new backyard pool. (Submitted)
Crews hoist the pool into position on Nov. 16, 2020. (Submitted)Crews hoist the pool into position on Nov. 16, 2020. (Submitted)
A crew arrives with the new pool for Oliver Finlayson on Nov. 16, 2020. (Submitted)A crew arrives with the new pool for Oliver Finlayson on Nov. 16, 2020. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

It was a big day for Oliver Finlayson when his pool arrived on Monday, Nov. 16.

The pool will be a life-changer for nine-year-old Oliver, and it wouldn’t have happened without the help of the Cowichan Lake community. Through generous fundraising and in-kind work, the community made Oliver’s pool possible.

“I’ve never lived in such a special place where everyone still gives people the shirts off their backs,” Oliver’s mom, Amie Mattice said.

Oliver lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and time in the water is a big help in coping with the condition. Hydrotherapy helps him relax and helps him get stronger, not to mention that he just loves swimming. He was travelling to Duncan for hydrotherapy treatment at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, which was inconvenient enough before the facility shut down for the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week marks one year since the family started the process of buying and installing the pool.

“We started fundraising for a pool because we were sick and tired of going to Duncan all the time,” Mattice explained.

Among many other supporters, the Kinsmen Club, friends, family and the rest of the community have joined the campaign to help Oliver. The family has made more than $5,000 from collecting cans and bottles, and the Help Fill a Dream Foundation contributed $10,000.

“Lots of people have come together to fundraise,” Mattice commented.

Oliver was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a neuromuscular disorder, five years ago, shortly after the family moved to Lake Cowichan from Sooke. Among other effects, Oliver will lose the ability to walk as he grows up.

“By the early teens, the heart and respiratory muscles may also be affected,” reads an explanation on Muscular Dystrophy Canada’s website. “A diagnosis of DMD includes a shortened life expectancy and the expectation that eventually, equipment such as a wheelchair and respiratory aids will be required. With exciting new advances in research into DMD over recent years, incredible increases in quality of life and life expectancy are being experienced by patients.”

There are ways to stem the effects of DMD, such as hydrotherapy, and Oliver is taking part in a clinical trial at BC Children’s Hospital. He is aware of his condition, but that doesn’t make things easier for the family.

“He knows what’s going to happen,” Mattice said. “But it’s still not easy to talk about in front of him.”

The pool isn’t the only addition to the Finlayson-Mattice residence that has been made possible by the community’s generosity. Neighbours Al and Janene coordinated an effort between Karlite Manufacturing and Irly Bird to get a ramp built at the front steps, and another couple, Tonya and Chris Halusiak, got Coastal Concrete Works and Surespan involved in building the pad for the pool in the backyard.

Gary Miller also donated time and materials to help get the pool up and running.

“A lot of people have come together,” Mattice said. Even now that it is installed, the family still owes a good chunk of money for the pool. To get it paid off, they will continue to collect cans, and have a GoFundMe site set up at https://www.gofundme.com/f/a-pool-for-oliver

cowichan valleyfundraiserLake Cowichan

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rick Morgan, Nanaimo Search and Rescue building director, and Carly Trobridge, president and search manager, turn sod to kick off the start of renovations to NSAR’s headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Search and Rescue getting started on $2.6-million makeover at Harewood headquarters

Renovation project will increase space for vehicles and improve training and management operations

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

A concrete seawall built to prevent erosion on a property on Driftwood Drive on Mudge Island. (Islands Trust image)
Appeal Court says Mudge Island homeowners’ seawall has to go

Court decides right to guard against erosion isn’t a ‘privileged’ property right

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read