After fire, Colebrook family gets good news for New YearBy DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader January 01. 2014 8:11PM
Whyatt Keith Champagne arrived just in time to make 2013 a good year overall for a Colebrook family that lost their home to fire last month.
The child was born at 10:20 p.m. New Year's Eve at Littleton Regional Hospital, a healthy 7 pound, 8 ounce boy who was due on Christmas Day but held out a little longer for anxious parents Judy and Raymond Champagne.
"He's here and he's healthy and he's beautiful," Raymond Champagne said Wednesday. "It was huge. Things are so much better now. It was pretty stressful there for a while."
The Champagnes' home was destroyed by a fire on Dec. 15.
Raymond, Judy and sons Damien and Blake all made it out safely.
As difficult as the loss of their home was, the fact that all survived — as did family dogs Lilly and Cujo — gave the Champagnes an emotional lift that continued to grow over the next three weeks thanks to support from family, friends and complete strangers.
On Wednesday night, the devastating fire was the last thing on their minds.
"It's definitely a good way to end the year," Judy said from her hospital room. "It made everything better and it helps to forget things for a little."
She said she started experiencing contractions on Tuesday, so she and Raymond got in the family pickup and started on the one-hour, 20-minute drive south to the hospital in Littleton.
Along the way, the truck blew its transmission, leaving the couple stranded on the side of the road.
They called Judy's parents, who arrived 45 minutes later to take them the rest of the way.
"My contractions were here and there. They weren't a real big deal," Judy said. "But it was a pretty interesting trip to the hospital."
Whyatt was less than two hours away from being one of New Hampshire's first babies of 2014. His parents said they were just as happy to have him be one of the last arrivals of 2013.
His big brothers came to meet him Wednesday night. Judy Champagne said she was hoping she could go home as early as today if her doctor felt she was ready.
They will be staying in a trailer that a neighbor opened up for the winter and offered the family for as long as needed.
A fundraiser Raymond's cousin set up on the site www.gofundme.com had brought in $5,785 as of Wednesday night.
The original goal when Donald Lesperance went public with his cousin's story was $1,500.
"They surpassed that within hours of fire," Judy said.
The Colebrook community also donated gifts for Damien and Blake to open on Christmas, as well as clothing and groceries.
Raymond said the family was overwhelmed by how many people stepped in to help, even though some didn't know the family at all.
"I want people to know how thankful we are," he said. "We definitely couldn't have done it without everybody that has supported us as we try and get back on our feet."
To donate: http://www.gofundme.com/5rmqhw