Le Classique creating opportunities for CMV research


When Rob Tétrault’s son was born with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV), him and his wife promised to do something valuable with their experience.

“We wanted to raise awareness so that other parents wouldn’t have to go through this ever again,” said Tétrault.

CMV is a common virus that can infect anyone, according to CMV Canada’s website. If you contract CMV while pregnant, it can be passed on to the baby, in which the sickness tends to be much more severe.

Babies who are born with CMV can appear healthy at first, but can develop problems later on such as hearing and vision loss. Babies who are sick at birth can get very sick, suffering from jaundice, purple splotches or a rash, an enlarged spleen, an enlarged and poorly functioning liver, pneumonia and seizures.

Tétrault said his goal is to eradicate CMV, and to do that he wanted to raise awareness and money.

So he and a friend started a winter ball hockey tournament, Le Classique.

“I’ve been a hockey fan my whole life…we grew up playing ball hockey and for us it was something we knew,” Tétrault said.

The first tournament was held in the parking lot of Le Garage Café, bringing out about 20 teams and raising $4,000, said Tétrault. But when he went to donate the money to a charity for CMV, he realized there wasn’t one.

“There was no foundation that existed, no advisory committees, no term papers, no boards, nothing,” said Tétrault. “So I created it.”

Tétrault created Canadian CMV, which became a recognized, national not-for-profit charity in 2014. Le Classique also became an annual event, getting bigger and bigger every year.

“We outgrew the site at Le Garage Café, we were at maximum capacity,” Tétrault said. “So now we’ve partnered with Festival du Voyageur and we’ll be hosting it on their grounds.”

The tournament starts Friday, Feb. 5 and goes through to Saturday, Feb. 6, ending with a Manitoban tradition — a social. Beer gardens, outdoor fireplaces, and heated tents will be available for players and non-players alike. There are also activities for kids planned on the Saturday.

“It’s great to raise awareness through a community event,” Tétrault said. “The people of Winnipeg are a community of people who get together and rally around causes.”

Tétrault said his goal for this year’s tournament is to raise $75,000, the highest they would ever have raised.

This year, CMV Canada will start giving grants to researchers, Tétrault said. The foundation is also gearing up to host the first ever national symposium for CMV next year in Winnipeg.

“We’re bringing all the experts from across Canada, all the specialists, and as a community we’re going to decide what positions we’re taking, how we’re going to lobby the government for change, and what approach we’re going to take to rid the world of this,” Tétrault said.

“I wanted to create something that’s going to be there forever, where every year we’re going to be able to keep giving grants.”


For more information on Le Classique, CMV Canada or donating to the foundation, you can visit Le Classique’s website or CMV Canada’s website.