Guy Lafleur: unforgettable meeting for disabled children

Guy Lafleur’s ‘magic’ visits are burned into the memories of children with disabilities who attended Camp Papillon and for whom he always found a moment.

• Also read: canadian v Bruins: moving tribute to an idol

• Also read: A state funeral for Guy Lafleur

“I still remember how he arrived and walked up the hill. it screamed [parmi la foule des petits], that’s for sure ! ‘ she says protocol Claude Dufresne, 54, who has a heart defect.

Klein, the latter attended the Papillon holiday camp for disabled children in Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez in Lanaudière for ten years.

From 1975, around 350 campers received large visitors every summer: number 10, which was at the peak of its fame at the time.

“Everyone knew Guy. Seeing a star was unexpected for these little ones. It was THE big day of the summer,” says Jean DeBlois, who coordinated the outdoor activities at the time.


Number 10 spent one day each summer with the children at Camp Papillon.

Photo courtesy of the Papillon Foundation

Number 10 spent one day each summer with the children at Camp Papillon.

“Children with disabilities were no different from others in this, they watched hockey games. Maybe they couldn’t play, but they got into that passion. And to see her star, it was bigger than big,” adds Renée Charron, Papillon Foundation Communications Manager.

Guy Lafleur | 1951-2022

Mar. 30, 1991 – An ovation for Guy Lafleur in his last game at the Forum, wearing the Nordiques shirt. Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur during his years at Le Canadien Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images

Guy Lafleur André Toto Gingras THE MONTREAL JOURNAL/QMI AGENCY

The Canadian Hockey Club presents the recipients of the 2017-2018 Guy-Lafleur Excellence and Merit Awards CHANTAL POIRIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur during the final game of his farewell tour at the Bell Center on Sunday December 5, 2010. Sébastien St-Jean / 24Heures / Agency QMI

September 11, 1971 – On the eve of his first training camp with the Montreal Canadiens, Guy Lafleur took his first opportunity to skate on the Forum rink. In the photo he is with Jean Béliveau. Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Autographed photo of Guy Lafleur in his Quebec Remparts uniform courtesy

Guy Lafleur at the retirement evening of Guy Lafleur’s number 4 at the Slush Puppie Center in Gatineau on Wednesday 29th September 2021 MARTIN CHEVALIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur and his banner as part of the retirement evening of Guy Lafleur’s number 4 at the Slush Puppie Center in Gatineau on Wednesday 29th September 2021 MARTIN CHEVALIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur’s final game against the Quebec Nordiques on March 30, 1991 in Montreal Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Sculpture by Guy Lafleur in bronze Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur, Pee-Wee Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament Collection, Modern Photo Fund

Guy Lafleur, Pee-Wee Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament Collection, Modern Photo Fund

Guy Lafleur and the trophies of Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Lester B. Pearson, Montreal Forum, 1976 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Guy Lafleur, then a member of Team Canada, signs autographs during practice for the Canada Cup, Montreal 1976 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks Guy Lafleur and goaltender Murray Bannerman #30, Montreal Forum 1980 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Toronto Maple Leafs goalies Mike Palmateer and Guy Lafleur Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

March 7, 1975 – Guy Lafleur becomes the first player in Canadian history to score 100 points in a single season in an 8-4 win over the Washington Capitals Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur on the bench during Game 3 vs. Boston Bruins, Boston Gardens, 1977 Dick Raphael/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Announcing the first retirement of Guy Lafleur The Archives / The Journal of Montreal

The QMJHL restores Guy Lafleur’s number 4 on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at the Videotron Center in Quebec STEVENS LEBLANC / JOURNAL DE QUEBEC / QMI AGENCY

Everyone smiles

Do you have any information about this story that you would like to share with us?

Do you have a scoop that might be of interest to our readers?

Write to us
jdm-scoop@quebecormedia.com or call us directly at
1 800-63 SHOVEL.

During his surprising performances at camp, Guy Lafleur took the time to chat with the children and, despite his immaculate white trousers, didn’t hesitate to play with them on the floor.

“He wasn’t disruptive at all,” recalls Mr. Dufresne who, while not a huge hockey fan, has fond memories of those special days.

Guy Lafleur was also quick to sign autographs or pose with a smile alongside his young admirers.

Christian Généreux’s parents also carefully preserved the photo published in Le Journal from Montreal immortalizing her 7-year-old son, who suffers from cerebral palsy, in the arms of his idol.

Humble and generous

If the now 52-year-old keeps a somewhat vague memory of their meeting, it underscores the humility and immense generosity of the number 10.

“I saw him again afterwards and damn it, he remembered me very well! Two years later we met him again in a hotel in Quebec City with my father and were offered tickets to the game,” writes the Montreal native from a family of hockey enthusiasts.

Mr. Généreux believes that the determination of “Flower” on the ice will set him against ” [ses] Disabilities and related situations [son] Disability”.

“I was very sad when he left. I would have liked to write to him, but I hesitated too long…” he regrets.


A philanthropist, like his mentor Béliveau

Guy Lafleur followed in the footsteps of the great Jean Béliveau, both on the ice and in philanthropy, by championing young Quebecers with special needs.

“It was Jean Béliveau who was Guy Lafleur’s philanthropic mentor and introduced him to our activities,” says Jean DeBlois, former director of Camp Papillon for children with disabilities.

As soon as he retired from the sport in 1971, “Le Grand Jean” donated an ambulance to the camp, multiplied monetary donations through his foundation and attended the summer camp with CH players.

valuable visits

One thing led to another, Guy Lafleur imitating him, struck to the heart.

“I can imagine he must have had a shock when he first set foot in the camp, it’s very impressive what we are doing there,” says Jean Duchesneau, current President of the Papillon Foundation.

In the summers beginning in 1975, the blond demon would therefore visit the little campers, walking in addition to the sickbeds of other young patients in Quebec hospitals.

“Some have had the opportunity to see him twice a year since they were often hospitalized,” adds Mr. DeBlois.

Guy Lafleur even co-sponsored the Papillon Foundation’s ‘Don’t Forget Me’ fundraising campaign in 1977 with Martine Minville, a chronically ill 11-year-old girl.


Martine Miville, 11, co-sponsored a fundraiser with Guy Lafleur in 1977.

Photo courtesy of the Papillon Foundation

Martine Miville, 11, co-sponsored a fundraiser with Guy Lafleur in 1977.

“Do I have to repeat it, I’m a sensitive guy. Children with disabilities have always moved me. I have always felt their fate to be unfair,” he told the media at the time.

against cancer

Towards the end of his life, the ice hockey star also became an ambassador for the Fondation du Center Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), where he was treated for lung cancer.

“We are very grateful to have been able to count on the commitment and generosity of a great man like Mr. Lafleur,” said Pascale Bouchard, President and General Manager of the foundation, whose fund is named Guy Lafleur.

– With the agency QMI

Leave a Comment