A Coaldale teen has vowed to keep collecting money for a proposed Alberta treatment centre for sexual abuse victims, even though the provincial government won't pay for the project.
Fifteen-year-old Alison Lee, who spoke out last year about her own childhood sexual abuse, raised a total of $9,100 for Little Warriors, an Edmonton-based charity dedicated to supporting child victims of sexual assault. The national charity had applied for $650,000 from the Alberta government to fund a proposed "Be Brave Ranch" treatment centre, but found out last month that the funding application had been denied.
"When I heard that, I just cried, because it's a horrible thing when the government won't support something that's really needed in our province," Alison said.
"It's one thing when you have adults speaking out, saying that we need this, but it's another thing to have children (speaking out)," she added. "The kids have to become the courageous ones and they have to go through so much and already being a victim, it's so much harder to be able to come out and say that you want this."
Alison's passion for the cause hasn't gone unnoticed - her efforts have caught the attention of one of her personal heroes: former NHL hockey player and abuse victim Theo Fleury.
She met Fleury recently at a charity ball fundraiser for Little Warriors.
"I walked past, and he looked familiar, and I was actually holding my Theo Fleury action figure in my hand," she said.
"He automatically knew who I was," she said. "He was just amazing and he was talking about how he was so happy that there's kids coming out and being able to be courageous."
Freshly inspired from meeting Fleury, Alison has a number of future projects on the horizon. Her next goal is to go to Ottawa to participate in the Little Warriors' Victory Walk fundraiser this spring.
"I'm definitely going to be helping out Little Warriors and we're going to get this ranch built," she said.