Pierre Villeneuve, a Florida resident, was diagnosed with Alpha-1 at the age of 39. Since then, Villeneuve and his wife Alex attend Alpha-1 support groups, conferences and education days, and do what they can to raise awareness about Alpha-1. This past June, the Villeneuve’s drove all the way to Canada, and made an unexpected friend along the way.
By Alex Villeneuve
On the drive to Canada this summer we were stuck in traffic on Highway 95 in the Georgia area around sunset. The open window allowed Ryder (our miniature pinscher, or Min Pin) to examine the surrounding area.
A truck driver to the right of us was also taking advantage of the cool evening air and since I assumed he had knowledge of the cause and possibly the duration of the delay, I simply asked him if we are in a long jam. He nodded and said that the emergency vehicles are in the process of moving the damaged vehicles so it should not be too much longer.
We drove side by side and at the next opportunity he complimented us on our handsome dog. I smiled and thought of something clever to say. I noticed he was hauling a huge boat so at the next opportunity I said; “You like my dog, I like your boat, let’s trade.” To my surprise he quickly agreed. Hmmm, guess it is not really his boat.
After a few more casual exchanges, he asked about the purple ribbon magnet on the back of our pick-up truck. I told him it is for Alpha 1. He nodded and said: “I thought so.” Interested in his knowledge of Alpha 1, I asked him if he knew someone with Alpha 1. Again he nodded and the expression on his face was not a happy one. Our highway chat ended as the jam quickly cleared up. I wonder how many people recognize the purple ribbon, but never get a chance to ask about it. I am glad it was on our truck and even if we don’t know how many others this magnet unites us with, we know that it is a silent connection with families hoping for a cure.