Teacher aids former student

Kathy McCarty, Special to The County
10 years ago

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    The love of a teacher can shape the life of a student throughout the school year and often leaves a lingering impression as the child grows into an adult. But in the case of one local educator, that love and commitment has spread over a lifetime, creating lasting friendship — a relationship that led Athena Hallowell, of Presque Isle, to start a fund-raising campaign for Adam MacDonald, a former student.

    At the beginning of March, Hallowell set up a Go Fund Me account online, posting a link to the site on Facebook asking for donations for MacDonald that will allow him to see a heart specialist in Ohio.

    According to MacDonald’s mother, Cheryl Markey, of Presque Isle, her son has had heart issues for a few years now and it’s hoped that doctors in Ohio can help him.

    “We’re raising funds to get Adam seen at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital by Dr. Wong and her colleagues. Dr. Wong is one of the few highly trained medical professionals for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy patients in the U.S. today. Many Duchenne families travel many miles to bring their children to the clinic to see Dr. Wong and her team,” said Markey.

    Markey said a surgical procedure may benefit her son.

    “There is a glimpse of hope for DMD individuals to have a surgery done to replace the left ventricle of the heart with a mechanical left ventricle assist device (LVAD). The surgery has been performed on other non-DMD individuals with heart failures for many years now. Only recently has the surgery been offered to DMD patients,” said Markey.

    Markey said CCH has an adult heart unit and that’s where she wants to take her son.

    “This hospital is where the first two surgeries were done on DMD individuals — one male, one female. Duchenne is primarily a disease that boys get and though rare in females, they’ve also been diagnosed,” said Markey.

    While in Ohio, MacDonald will also need to see a pulmonary specialist and gastrologist.

    “That’s at a cost of $800 per doctor. We will be driving, so there is gas and lodging each night, as well as meals. That’s about five days of travel and two or three days staying in Cincinnati,” said Markey.
    Traveling that far to see a specialist is a costly venture. That’s where Hallowell has tried to make a difference.

    Initially, Hallowell set a goal of $2,200 to cover the cost of the specialists.

    “That total was met in three days. The site charges 7 percent for site management fees, but it’s worth it. We’ve since upped the amount needed to $5,000, which will help provide travel, lodging and food expenses for the family trip to Ohio,” said Hallowell.

    As of Tuesday, 101 donations had been made for a total so far of $4,220.

    “It’s an effortless, wonderful fundraiser. You can find the Go Fund Me site on Adam’s, Cheryl’s or my Facebook page,” said Hallowell.

    “We’re grateful for all the love and support Adam’s received in the past and continues to receive,” said Markey. “Thank you so much.”