By Seth Daniel
When a busload of Malden Catholic (MC) High School students empty out onto Admiral’s Hill in Chelsea this coming Sunday, Sept. 25, to participate in the Leonard Florence Center for Living’s (LFCFL) Walk for Living, they will be mindful of two men in their own community – one of whom suffers from ALS.
MC has long had a community of brothers that have taught at the all-male Catholic School, and this year the students at MC – particularly the Lancers in Action Club – are dedicating their participation in the walk to those brothers, specifically Brother Joe Comber and his full-time caretaker, Brother Tim Hoey.
“Brother Tim decided last year to take a leave to take care of Brother Joe full time,” said Brother Tom Puccio of MC. “Everyone here knows Brother Tim and wanted to help Brother Tim and Brother Joe in whatever way they could.”
He said there are seven brothers who live in community in Melrose, and have for 35 years. About three years ago, Brother Joe was diagnosed with ALS. Last year, the disease had progressed enough to where Brother Joe needed a full-time caregiver. That’s when Brother Tim stepped up to sacrifice his time to take care of Brother Joe.
Mary Driscoll of MC said this was the first year that MC has participated in the walk, and with the personal story of Brother Joe, it has become a very moving service project at the school this year.
“In the summer we have a four-day workshop for the Lancers in Action and the Walk was introduced and the kids were very receptive. The students are co-chairs of the Walk Committee here and they’re talking about it and so are the theology classes. They have decided to dedicate their participation in the Walk for Living to Brother Tim, Brother Joe and all of the brothers.”
The 8th Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living, a fundraiser to support the neurological specialty residences and its residents at LFCFL, will take place on Sunday, September 25, 10 a.m. at 165 Captains Row on Admirals Hill in Chelsea. The Dapper McDonald ALS Residence marks the third neurological specialty residence within the award-winning LFCFL. The Steve Saling ALS Residence and the Slifka MS Residence opened in 2010. The revolutionary technology, dedicated support staff and nurturing home environment enable the residents to live as independently as possible.
“This year’s Walk for Living will honor Bill and Sharon Stein; major benefactors of our ALS Residences,” said Barry Berman, CEO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation. “Their extreme generosity has changed the lives of our pALS.” He added, “We also wish to thank our local communities, businesses, residents and their families. Clearly, their support of the Walk, year after year, is truly invaluable.”
In addition to learning about the personal ALS story of a member of the MC community, students will also hear from LFCFL resident and home designer Steve Saling. Saling revolutionized the way that homes for ALS patients work after he had been diagnosed with the disease. As he slowly lost his physical abilities, he worked to use technology within the residences to make life of a higher quality – thinks like being able to open the blinds or use the elevator by blinking.
Brother Tom said his small community, which has been tremendously affected by ALS over the last three years, is very excited that the students at MC are participating for the first time. They are also humbled by having the efforts dedicated to Brother Joe and the rest of the community.
“It’s a great sign of support,” he said. “I know Tim and Joe are very flattered.”