By Mary O’Connell
When Sacred Heart University junior Jaime Fregeau was just six years old, she was diagnosed with Leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells.
She is now an active advocate for both Relay for Life and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“Being so young, I was too naive to understand what was going on. I thought it was kind of like the flu and that everyone was going to get it,” said Fregeau.
Her experience with Make-A-Wish also made a huge difference.
Make-A-Wish is a foundation that grants wishes for children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. For Fregeau, she received her wish as she was battling the cancer at six. She chose to go to Disney World.
“It’s what gave me my childhood back when I was sick. I wasn’t allowed to see my friends the entire time I was hospitalized. So being able to go to Disney, a highly populated area, get to be a kid, go on those rides, all in a way gave me my life back,” said Fregeau.
As for now, she fulfills her advocacy with Make-A-Wish through her membership in Sacred Heart’s sorority, Chi Omega. As part of Chi Omega’s philanthropy, they work closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Last year, she spoke at their annual Make-A-Wish Ball.
“Jaime supports Make-A-Wish foundation more than anyone else I know. She participates and supports various Make-A-Wish events and makes speeches about her very own story. Her story and self in general inspires others to donate and want to be a part of granting a child their wish,” said her little and fellow Chi Omega sister, sophomore Rebecca Rutkiewicz.
Another organization that Fregeau works closely with is Relay for Life, a fundraising event and walk that raises money for the American Cancer Society.
“I did my first Relay for Life when I was a junior in high school,” said Fregeau. “Being a survivor I didn’t know what to expect until I got there. When I got there, seeing how many people were there and how much support there was, it made a huge impact on me, which is why I decided to become as big of an advocate as I am. It really shows survivors, patients going through it and families that they’re not alone, that there’s a community there for support.”
Fregeau participates in Relay for Life in her hometown of North Smithfield, R.I., and is team captain at Sacred Heart’s Relay for Life.
With all that she’s done, she has continued to inspire others with her dedication.
“I am blessed to know and have such a strong and incredible person as my big and most supportive friend,” said Rutkiewicz.
As far as other activities go, aside from her sorority and working with Make-A-Wish and Relay for Life, Fregeau is a member of the dance ensemble at school. She also continues to dedicate herself to helping others while studying nursing, in hopes of working in pediatric oncology.