Ava Lizotte, 11, remembered as 'a ball of light' after death from blood infection
'She was the best little friend... She took care of everyone," says close family friend
"Little Ava" Lizotte knew Sarah Erasmus her whole life.
Erasmus was there when Ava was born August 2005, and was a constant presence in Ava's life, right up to the moment of Ava's death Friday afternoon.
"She was always happy and enjoyed being around everyone," Erasmus told CBC News over the phone while with the Lizotte family in Edmonton just hours after 11-year-old Ava died.
In a matter of hours... the impossible happened.- Sarah Erasmus , close family friend
"She was the best little friend that you could ask for. She took care of everyone."
Erasmus, 30, says everyone tried desperately to take care of Ava when it all started Wednesday night after Ava had a bad pain in her leg.
And then, "in a matter of hours, from zero to 100... the impossible happened," Erasmus said.
A medevac team took Ava to Edmonton after doctors in Yellowknife realized she had contracted a blood infection.
"Everyone did what needed to be done, but this virus — whatever it is — works quick and it was the worst that could happen," Erasmus said.
Ava died in an Edmonton hospital Friday afternoon, with friends and family close by.
Erasmus says no one is sure exactly what caused the infection in Ava's blood; she says they're not even sure what they can call it.
"We don't really know much," Erasmus said. "She [hadn't] been stable long enough to get a biopsy and to take her into surgery to see actually what caused the infection, what even exactly happened."
She says everyone is still "taking it hour by hour," trying to wrap their heads around what happened so suddenly.
On Tuesday, Erasmus was watching TV with Ava and her eight-year-old brother Logan. It was like any other day.
"She was on the phone with her friends, chit chatting," Erasmus recalled, adding that besides the pain in her leg, Ava looked "fine and healthy." She was supposed to compete in a gymnastics tournament in Vancouver this weekend.
"She was always doing flips and somersaults and all kinds of things," Erasmus said, softly laughing as she talked about her friend.
She says Ava loved to dance and sing and make videos — and she loved helping her dad with his dogsled teams.
"Little Ava, she was definitely a ball of light."
$34,000 raised in 24 hours
On Thursday, the day after Ava arrived in Edmonton, family friend Kim Bergman set up a fundraising website to help pay for the unexpected costs that hit the Lizotte family this week; her mother Courteney flew in to Edmonton from Vancouver where she was on a business trip, and her father Trevor caught the first flight out of Yellowknife, following Ava's medevac plane, which was packed with a team of pediatric doctors.
The people in the N.W.T. really are just one big family.- Sarah Erasmus
In just four hours, more than 200 people donated $19,000 to the Lizotte family.
Donations keep rolling in. As of early Saturday afternoon, 363 people have donated a collective $34,490.
Erasmus says people have been sending text messages, Facebook messages and making phone calls, expressing their condolences to the Lizotte family, wanting to help in any way they can.
"The people in the N.W.T. really are just one big family that are there for one another," Erasmus said.
Erasmus says she and the rest of the family and friends who are still in Edmonton Saturday are staying with Trevor, Courteney, brother Logan, 8. and sister Satie, 19, until they're ready to bring Ava back home.
"We're all just staying close and being there for one another," she said. "It's nothing a parent should ever have to go through."