It was the love for their grandson, and the strength of their faith, that prompted Peter and Teena Oudman to build a care facility for disabled children in Mexico.
The couple was inspired to build Casa Connor in honour of their grandson Connor who suffered from Hunter Syndrome, a degenerative disease with a terminal diagnosis. Connor passed away in October 2012 at the age of 15. Shortly after his death, his grandparents broke ground on Casa Connor.
Many will know the Oudmans from their years of seasonal residence at the Radium Valley Vacation Resort, where for some time Teena was a volunteer and Peter was the maintenance man. Teena praised the support they found in the Columbia Valley over the years for Casa Connor, and especially the love and compassion shown to their grandson when he was still alive.
“People all knew Connor here. So that makes you (the Valley) a part of this,” Teena said. “The love people gave him was touching.”
The Oudmans made special mention to Radium Valley Vacation Resort owner Wayne Homgren, who helped coordinate fundraiser events for Casa Connor and supported the family through their care of him.
“I was allowed to have Connor there, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart because it was lovely for him. Just lovely,” said Teena.
Growing up, Connor would often spend time with his grandparents when they were in the Valley and back home in Calgary. Peter and Teena would take Connor to provide respite to his parents, who have three other children to care for.
“Because I’m a very strong person, I could look after him,” explained Teena. “A disabled child takes everything. They need all the attention; there’s no other choice.”
The Oudmans spend five months every year living in Mexico. They used to volunteer in orphanages and helped build schools in and around Peurto Vallara. In that time, they noticed a devastating lack of resources for children with disabilities, and that they were marginalized in society.
One day, Teena shared, she had a vision to build Casa Connor.
“God guided us; we knew it would happen,” said Teena.
They opened the doors of Casa Connor to disabled children in January 2017. CASA Connor is a not-for-profit, registered society, committed to providing services and facilities to allow these children to receive therapy as required. It is big enough to support 150 kids, as well as overnight respite care for 30 children. Currently, the facility hosts 50 kids due to financial constraints. Those 50 children are provided two meals a day and therapy as needed.
“They get therapy, and that is an amazing difference for those kids. Kids who had no hope are walking. Kids who could not feed themselves are feeding themselves. It is amazing,” said Teena.
Peter shared the story of one little boy named Cesar. When he came in, he did nothing but cry. Now he is in walking therapy, and has learned to feed himself.
“He’s come so far. He’s able to throw a ball now,” Peter elaborated.
The Oudmans are looking for monthly donors for Casa Connor, to help make the financial future of the facility more secure. If you are interested in monthly or one-time donations, visit www.casaconnor.org.