In Massachusetts, family and friends of Paul Lydon are pulling together to ease the suffering and hardship that he and his family are facing as he copes with a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
The 40-year-old husband and father of four young children was diagnosed in May of this year with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, an illness which will likely end his life within two to three years.
And in Donegal, Jerome McShane, a father of five who recently moved to Ireland from New York is struggling to raise his five children after the tragic death of his wife from cancer.
Friends of the McShane family in New York are reaching across the ocean to help and are planning a benefit in Queens in January.
Meanwhile, dozens of friends, family, and volunteers from Paul Lydon’s hometown of Wilmington, north of Boston, have banded together to renovate the Lydon home and install insulation, siding, a new roof, a new septic system, a deck, and a substantial wheel-chair accessible addition.
Deb and Al Marzi, neighbors of the Lydons, have been at the forefront of the reconstruction efforts.
“While we couldn’t do anything to help him medically, we knew it would ease his mind as a father and husband if we could renovate his house and guarantee that his wife and kids will have a future here as Wilmington residents,” said Deb Marzi.
Skilled carpenters, plumbers and electricians are donating their expertise and time to work on the renovations, along with volunteers from all walks of life who are eager to help out in any way they can.
Lydon, who is 40, works as a chemist in Andover. Both of his parents are from Ireland. He and his wife, Alice, are the parents of Joseph, 7, Sean, 5, Liam, 3, and 2-year-old Molly. Because of their ages, the children are unaware of the terminal nature off their father’s disease.
“Paul is a very good man and a very good father,” said his niece, Rachel Colella.
“This is an extremely difficult time for the whole family, both emotionally and financially. The thought of not being able to provide for his family is something that Paul is constantly struggling with.”
Colella said that the Lydons are very grateful during this holiday season for the prayers and generosity of so many people.
“We’re all doing what we can to help the Lydons get through the terrible times they have ahead of them,” she said.
“We want the family to be able to focus on Paul’s care and not have to worry about so many other things.”
More information about the Lydon family is available at www.friendsofthelydonfamily.org. Donations can be sent to Friends of the Lydon Family, c/o Kelly Sullivan, 6 Middle St., Watertown, Ma. 02472.
The effort to help the McShanes, meanwhile, has drawn together a long list of friends in the New York area who are working to make the January benefit as big as they possibly can.
Jerome McShane, formerly of Maspeth, and a 22-year member of Carpenters Local 608 and his wife Catherine, originally from County Tipperary, along with their three children, returned to Jerome’s native Kilcar, County Donegal in June of this year.
The couple were expecting twins at the time of the move. But just nine weeks after they had settled in Donegal the McShanes were given the devastating news that Catherine was suffering from terminal cancer.
As a result of the diagnosis the twins, both girls, were delivered prematurely at 28 weeks on September 10. Their mother died just 11 days later leaving Jerome McShane as the sole provider and parent for his five children.
Friends of the McShanes say that in her final days, Catherine McShane had shown courage and strength that only those who had witnessed it at first hand could fully appreciate.
The friends have opened the McShane Family Fund with an address at PO Box 780006 Maspeth, NY 11378. The January 24 benefit will be held at Connolly’s Corner in Maspeth which can be contacted at (718)565-7383 or www.connollycorner.com.