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"a personal connection"

- Grahamtastic Connection was featured in this Port City Life article in December 2008:

Port City Life / DEC 2008 / Photograph by Tim Greenway

a personal connection
December 2008

In the morning, Miro Bolduc, a 20-year old art student who lives with his father in Litchfield, wakes up, turns on his laptop, and checks his email. He wasn't always so connected, which made his frequent trips to the hospital even worse and more isolating.

"We were coming back from getting my pick line," he says, "and this woman told me, 'I have a brand new computer that's coming for you.' I had never met the woman. I think I talked to her on the phone for like 20 seconds. Literally, within two weeks, I had a Dell Vostro. I put Word on it and installed [Internet-based phone service] Skype. She ended up giving me two gigs of memory just so I could talk to my mom in Texas."

The laptop was from Leslie Morissette. She runs a nonprofit, Grahamtastic Connection, in Springvale. It's one of only two programs she knows about nationwide that provide critically ill young people with laptops.

The program started 11 year ago, after her son Graham succumbed to cancer. "After I lost him, I was online with one of his doctors who was helping with grief, and I thought, 'How blessed I am to have the Internet.' There are other families that didn't have that access. A light bulb sort of went off in my head: 'I wonder if I can help other families?'"

Morissette started lugging around computers and setting up dialup connections for families in Maine. She knew patients with comprised immune systems couldn't always receive visitors or use communal computer terminals in hospitals, and she knew how important it was for patients to stay connected to teachers, friends and family, and doctors.

The program now has 250 computers, 50 of which were donated during a September appearance on CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. Students at Westbrook Regional Vocational Center do the technical work refurbishing used laptops. Then, the computers get to patients like Miro Bolduc.

"I look up medical terms and drugs," he says. "I'm very up on my health. I try as hard as I can to know what's going on. Sometimes I have arguments with nurses. But I just like to know myself. It helps me sleep."

Port City Life / DEC 2008 / Photograph by Tim Greenway