Archive for Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A Christmas Story

Pin Oak residents pool together to help neighbor with ALS

December 18, 2002

Decked in commercialism and steeped in shopping day hustle and bustle, the spirit of the Christmas season can sometimes be easily lost on many.

However, this isn't the case in Basehor, or more accurately the Pin Oak subdivision, where the spirit of Christmas is alive and doing well thanks to a cooperative effort to help a subdivision resident and his family.

Pin Oak residents recently donated $2,413 in cash, a memorial pine tree, and numerous dinner and babysitting gift certificates to the Manford family, 15405 Pin Oak Dr.

Jerry Manford, 39, suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or what's most commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

ALS is a neurological degenerative disorder that attacks motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, eventually disrupting muscle movement.

"(We) just wanted to do something for the family," Pin Oak resident Twila Heinen said.

"It's just neighbors wanting to help neighbors out," she added, citing that 39 of the 45 Pin Oak homeowners donated to help the family.

Heinen said donations also came from the Basehor-Linwood School District, the Friends of the Basehor Community Library, Bonner Springs Church of the Nazarene and several private businesses.

"(Everyone) did very well with the donations," she said.

But loving thy neighbor doesn't end with just the donations. Eight to 10 Pin Oak residents are also giving Jerry rides to work because after two "fender benders" he's decided to quit driving.

"I don't like to think I'm so selfish I would hurt somebody," he said.

Since being diagnosed with the disease in 2001, ALS has taken its toll on Manford, a father of three.

The disease has crippled his hands and legs, and he now uses a wheelchair most of the time for mobility.

"It's more rapid," he said. "It's gotten into more muscle groups and picked up more steam."

Other changes he's made include adding a lift into his home to get from one floor to the other, and installing a voice activated computer he calls HAL, which activates various appliances around the house.

But as difficult as adjusting to life with ALS is, Manford said he has had to learn another hard lesson, one he's not used to: letting other people help.

"I was really floored," he said of the donations. "I didn't really feel like bothering anybody with my problems. It's the process of letting people help.

"I made a remark to my child if you remember anything remember this: this is what life comes down to, helping other people."

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