Sourire à la Vie (Smile for Life) is a Marseille-based association founded by a sailing enthusiast – Frédéric Sotteau. For 13 years now, the association has been offering support for children with cancer, whether they are undergoing treatment, in remission or in palliative care.
Sport and the sea are sources of inspiration and a model of expression for the Sourire à la Vie teams. Naturally this led to the idea of setting sail on a multihull. Sailing allows children to escape, cast off and set sail to get away from the hospital. On the program, encounters with dolphins, whales and other marine animals. The goal is to experience unique moments with friends and enjoy breathtaking scenery! In order to make this dream possible, the children take over a Lagoon 500 called “Horizon” every year from June through September.
Programs are established taking into account weather conditions, crew, and medical care and analysis requirements, which determine the number of days, destination and logistics required. Trips last from 3 to 12 days. In total, more than 70 days of sailing are scheduled each year between Marseille, Corsica and Sardinia.
In order to be able to welcome children on board, the association has made some modifications to the catamaran. To increase the vessel’s longitudinal stability and increase buoyancy forward, the bows were lengthened. The cabin layout has also been revised to accommodate 12 bunks.
The children are very attached to their annual trip aboard the Lagoon 500 and have only fond memories of their travels, like Alexandre – and his mom:
“A big thank you to all for a great week at sea! Alexandre came back in great shape, with a resplendent look. He’s even been getting about without his crutches since his return to shore! It seems that one week at sea is equivalent to several weeks of therapy! This trip allowed him to take a great big breath of fresh air before returning to the reality of school. Thank you for everything, again!”
Sourire à la Vie works with respect for secularism and guarantees all families equal access to projects, regardless of their social situation. In fact, to participate, the child simply has to fill in a registration form and pay a contribution of ten euros. From that moment on, all activities are completely free of charge for families. For more information about the association, click here.