Born in 1973, I grew up on both coasts before I finally made my home in Edmonton, AB. As far back as I can remember I was born to run, always pushing myself to achieve—not just on the race track, but also in my personal life, my career and my charitable service. The trophies I’ve thus far claimed include my wonderful husband, Gary, my three children, my several businesses (including g[squared] and Trafik Interactive) and the personal fulfillment that’s arisen from my work in Africa and with Little Warriors. Though my race is far from over, I wake up each day knowing I have already won.
My Survivor Story
On December 31st, 1981, a family member sexually abused me for the first time when I was 8 years old. This abuse continued for the next couple of years. When I finally told my mother what had happened, she took me to Social Services, but when they interviewed my abuser, he denied it and they took him at his word. No charges were laid against him and my accusation tore my family apart. It would take 25 years before he saw a courtroom, but—in my case—justice has still yet to be served due to an absurd legal technicality.
Denied closure by our legal system, I realized that it was up to me to tend to my own psychological wounds. It was time for me to learn how to love myself. Finding the strength I needed to do this through my exploration of spirituality and yoga, I discovered my true purpose in life—to live a life of service by helping and healing others and doing everything I could to eradicate the scourge of child sexual abuse.
It’s one thing to discover your life’s purpose; it’s another to do something about it. In my case, I formed Little Warriors in 2007. It’s a charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse through awareness and the promotion of adult education. I’ve also devoted myself to taking frequent humanitarian trips to the poorest parts of Africa, where I not only learned to be grateful for the gifts I’ve been given and blessed with the opportunity to sponsor dozens of children, but also found the greatest gift of all—my son.
I was able to find the tools I needed to survive my own personal nightmare. But so many other survivors of child sexual abuse have not been so lucky.
My dream is to someday be able to help them fight their demons and conquer the traumatic memories that have thus far kept them chained to their dysfunctions. During the course of my work combating child sexual abuse, I made the shocking discovery that despite the existence of dozens of so-called “treatment” centers for sexual predators throughout Canada, not a single centre exists for the treatment of survivors. My dream is to build the Little Warriors Be Brave Ranch: a spiritual oasis where neglected survivors can find the tools they need to heal their bodies, hearts, spirits and minds.
I am incredibly excited to announce that Little Warriors has purchased the facility that will become the Be Brave Ranch by Ray LaBonte and Family. Right now, hundreds of volunteers and sponsors are donating their time and resources to renovate the facility, and we hope to be open by the summer of 2014.