So far, Concord High School Principal Gene Connolly has been able to continue doing what he loves – educating today’s youth.
Things have changed some since his ALS diagnosis a year and a half ago. He now has long flowing white locks that he wears in a ponytail each day thanks to his wife and a preference to use his iPad program to speak for him. But for the most part, so far, so good.
Although at some point in time, Connolly is going to need help – and lots of it. It’s the harsh reality of his diagnosis, something that happens to everyone living with ALS. And his longtime administrative assistant Lisa Lamb wants to make sure the Connolly family has the support they need – both emotionally and financially.
“Every day is a new challenge for them,” Lamb said.
That’s why she’s organized another Connolly Tough Walk for Oct. 17 and is selling T-shirts to raise money. But the proceeds won’t go to the ALS Foundation like last year. This time around the money will go into the Connolly Tough Fund.
“It’s something they can take from when it’s needed,” Lamb said.
The fund was established last year to help offset some of the costs that the Connolly family will endure in the months and years to come. An event, called Groovin’ with Gene, was held in the spring with a night of dinner and dancing and a silent auction, and got the fund off on the right foot. This year’s walk will help add to the total.
You see, insurance doesn’t cover many of the things needed to help combat ALS, like that iPad program we mentioned earlier.
“We’re trying to make it so they can live their life the way they need to,” Lamb said.
Some day, Connolly will need a wheelchair and subsequently a vehicle to help transport him so he isn’t homebound. With a wheelchair, there is a need for a ramp to get in and out of the house and handicapped accessible upgrades to the house, including what will be a costly bathroom renovation.
“It’s hard to tell what his future holds,” Lamb said. “Things change every day for him, just not always drastically.”
So for $20, you can not only get a brand-new gray T-shirt with a picture of Connolly on it, but the money will also go directly into the fund. The only cost associated for walk organizers is the price of the shirts.
The walk will be held the morning of Concord’s homecoming, beginning at 11 a.m., but those who are walking should show up about a half-hour early. You’ll meet in the Concord High School parking lot on Warren Street and should expect to cover a distance of 2 miles. And while Connolly walked last year, it’s a little far these days so the plan is to have him riding in style – like in a convertible.
“We’re hoping to have a nice big sea of gray T-shirts,” Lamb said.
There’s no guarantee there will be T-shirts available the day of, so you should probably make sure you get one ahead of time. They are available Monday through Friday at the high school from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and each Thursday evening prior to the walk from 6 to 8 p.m. If those times don’t fit into your schedule, just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225-0800 ext. 6001 to make arrangements.
“Our goal is to sell out before the walk,” Lamb said.
Last year, the walk raised about $25,000 for the ALS Foundation and Lamb would like to see a repeat.
And you don’t have to buy a T-shirt to donate; they’ll gladly take any amount you’re willing to give.
“People don’t necessarily understand this disease and its been a learning curve for everyone,” Lamb said.