Greeted by Nicolas de Villiers, president of the Association du Puy du Fou, the Foundation was honoured at the Puy du Fou last Friday 3rd July; during a great humanitarian evening, it received the prize handed out every year by the association Puy du Fou-Esperance.
Already, many people of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation and Institute delegation are proceeding down the alley of the castle’s court, alongwith a dozen children, most of whom have Down Syndrome. As they move forward, volunteers in renaissance costumes, most of whom are children, some of them dressed as stable boys, form a guard of honour around them, brandishing branches of broom.
On the stage, Benoit, a child from the Puy du Fou, cape flying and a feather in his flat cap, addresses the children of the Lejeune Institute:” This evening the light will not shine from the projectors but from your hearts. There will be more stars than usual, created by the delight in your eyes. There will be one heart for Vendée and one for the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation.”
Renée Brossard, president of Puy du Fou-Espérance, then goes over professor Lejeune’s itinerary and the three missions of the Foundation, which are: research, care, advocate, before adding that the Professor knew the Puy du Fou and had experienced there an “upsurge of life”, such as remembered later by Philippe de Villiers.
The prize is handed out with great ceremony… It is nothing less than the court of Francis the 1st, in great renaissance costumes, which has made the journey to honour this moment with its presence… The king himself brings up the rear, under a canopy held up by a stable boy. Here, history pops up at every turn, every opportunity… to the great pleasure of both the old and the young. Two young girls come forth, carrying an enormous cheque, symbol of the amount received. These 500,000 euros should enable the Institute to enlarge the space devoted to the consultations of patients living with various genetic intellectual diseases.
A moment of great emotion when François, a 15 year old young boy living with Down Syndrome, takes the floor: “In the name of all the children who come to the consultation ward, in the name of their parents, of our families, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for your generosity”. It is with the following words that he ends his talk, simple words, both sensitive and sweet, but also full of strength: “There is one thing the Foundation and the Puy du Fou have in common; we are loved!”
It is then Jean-Marie Le Méné’s turn to thank the Puy du Fou for having long understood that the Foundation and the consultation ward welcome all people living with a pathology that is not perceived as compatible with modern life. By caring for and treating people with mental disabilities, we fill an emptiness”. He also reminds those present that, since it was created, the Foundation has been trying to “generate interest in research and science in order to find a treatment that would enable people who have a mental retardation because of a deficiency of their genome to regain their abilities”. Goal achieved: in the last 20 years, over 60 research programmes have been funded. After quoting Professor Lejeune: “When nature condemns, the role of medicine is not to execute the sentence but to commute the sanction.” , Jean-Marie Le Méné ended his talk by insisting on how close the Puy du Fou and the Foundation are, both working at going against the flow of modern thinking.”
Finally, Philippe de Villiers, the founder of the Puy du Fou, explained that beyond the cheque and the invitation to the cinéscénie show, the first bonds with the Foundation are the memories of the first visits of Jérôme Lejeune, the great friend of John Paul II, who “treated his patients through science and humanity”, and of his family. He also mentioned another bond, that of the “mystery of civilisation: the common denial of the unspeakable, the destruction of life, of what is beautiful: ugliness. Tonight, the “Puy du Fou devotes its cinéscénie to a major work of civilisation”.