Eventually, Olivia and her parents landed up in Texas for a second opinion and saw Dr. Robert Gledhill, former chief of pediatric orthopedic surgery at the Montreal Children's Hospital. He eventually performed surgery not once, but twice. Her recovery required a multitude of life-changing decisions. Olivia soon realized that she would never be able to compete at the level she once had. Her dreams of competitive swimming at a national and international level were permanently shattered. However, the McGill Student did not allow this misfortune to define her life. Instead she redirected her energies into volunteering and helping others.
"When I was in CEGEP," says Olivia, "I started volunteering at the Ste. Anne's Veterans Hospital one afternoon a week, spending time with two veterans. This opened up my eyes to the importance of volunteerism and the impact that it can have. My first exposure to children in need was in Morocco, where I volunteered at a children's hospital through an international volunteer program. I then became involved as a volunteer at the Montreal Children's Hospital, where I worked with children in the Medicine and Surgery Wards."
Olivia was then hired by the Children's to run the Terrace Summer Program as a member of the Child Life team. Her work at the Children's included assessment and preparation of appropriate activities for the patients, as well as providing support to the children and their families. "The incredible children that I had the opportunity to work with shaped my life and allowed me to grow as a person," explains Olivia. "Their strength and resilience motivates me to work hard to make a difference. I believe the sensitivity I developed for these children stems from the health challenges that I faced when I was younger." Since her position at the Montreal Children's, Olivia has worked with children and the elderly in Peru. She also had the opportunity to volunteer in Kenya all while attending McGill University.
Feeling the need to do more, she began fundraising when she was 18. Through marathons, car washes, swim-o-thons, shopping events and even party busses, Liv, as her friends call her, raised funds for several organizations including the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada and the Starlight Children's Foundation. "I found that attaching a physical challenge to a fundraising initiative allows me to connect with the cause," explains Olivia.
Last fall, the athletic student decided to up her game by training to climb Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for The Donald Berman YALDEI Developmental Center in Montreal. Her father, Dr. Luis Monton, was so inspired by Olivia's tenacity that he committed to climbing and fundraising with her. They created a fundraising initiative called "Hike for Hope 2014" to benefit this center. Olivia and her father will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in August 2014 and together hope to raise over $42,000.
Dr. Monton refers to YALDEI as "Montreal's best-kept secret." Founded in 1997, this center is the only one of its kind in Quebec. Using a holistic approach, YALDEI is dedicated to helping children with developmental challenges learn and reach their full potential. "When Olivia looks at these children she does not see their disabilities, but instead sees their capabilities,"
Not satisfied with merely a Kilimanjaro climb, Olivia wants to increase Yaldei's awareness by organizing an incredible fundraising event at an Outremont venue; Espace Réunion (6600 Hutchison St.) on Saturday, May 24th at 6:00 p.m. "LIVe for the Cause Cocktail Gala" will feature an incredible array of native Montreal artists including guest appearances by Sam Roberts and Chris Hall. Christine Robinson, a member of the Canadian Olympic Women's Water Polo team, recruited Regiment Bartendaz Canada and Krump Dance Crew Bzerk Squad to perform at the event. A $125 ticket buys dinner, wine, and entertainment. A tax receipt will be issued for the full amount. This is an evening not to be missed!
For more information or to schedule an interview with Olivia Monton, please contact:
For tickets to LIVe for the Cause Cocktail Gala: www.liveforthecause.ca
To donate to Hike for Hope 2014: www.hikeforhope2014.com
About the Company:
Yaldei is a privately funded, a not-for-profit Early Intervention center dedicated to help children with developmental and learning challenges to reach their full potential. We offer Early Intervention treatment and specialized therapies to children with developmental needs from infant to 18 year adult. Yaldei's state-of-the-
Please visit for more info: http://www.yaldei.org/