Wednesday, September 18, 2019
#LaCoste Strong - A Community of Love, Kindness and Big Hearts
Team McManus stood at the starting line of the 2018 Bermuda Half Marathon and "just happened" to meet Linda and Brad Gilbreth wearing Team Big Heart Shirts.
We knew about The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation from when we volunteered at the Celebrity Mile in July 2016 but once we met Linda and Brad, we were magically drawn into Team Big Heart.
During the 2018-2019 Boston Marathon training season, Tom and I would do a 5K on Heartbreak Hill and then cheer on members of Team Big Heart at the Team Big Heart Tent/aid station for runners:
As Ali LaCoste said in a recent Facebook post, "We had an eerie close connection ever since we met!"
Ali's husband Kevin is the Principal at the same school where Scott Middlemiss is the Assistant Principal. Pretty amazing how this tapestry of life works, eh?
Kevin was training for his 2nd Boston with Team Big Heart. As so often happens in running, Ali and I became instant friends.
Here's a photo of Kevin and his fellow Ninja Turtles during Superhero Saturday long run and during Hops21 long run:
We kibbutzed at the Celebrity Scoopfest where Kevin was a celebrity scooper:
In July, we saw a Facebook post that caught our breath. Kevin had been injured in a freak accident and was in critical condition at MGH in the ICU.
A GoFundMe page was set up within hours and donations started pouring in.
Scott set up a CaringBridge Journal
The village that surrounds went with Ali on that emotional roller coaster ride in the days and weeks following the accident as we waited for updates from the MGH ICU.
Kevin's Army became a Facebook group with Scott providing Andy Grammer's song, "Don't Give Up On Me" as the anthem. It is one of Kevin's favorite songs and when we learned Andy Grammer is coming to Boston on 11/1 and was asking for fans to share their Don't Give Up On Me stories, Scott made this video featuring Jack and Grace:
and the entire Col. Robinson School community made this video:
Stories were shared that regaled the kind of person Kevin is and how he has touched lives through his role as Principal, Team Big Heart Teammate, and as a beloved member of the Westford Community.
Lemonade stands, Laps for LaCoste, a Read-a-Thon, LaCoste Strong bracelets and countless events were and continue to be created to benefit Ali, Kevin and their two beautiful children. LaCoste Strong t-shirts were sold at warped speed and 3 campaigns raised over $15,000. Everyone is coming together to help raise much needed funds so that Ali and Kevin can focus on healing, not on financial stress.
We celebrated healing milestones and prayed during times of anxiety and uncertainty. Healing happened as the weeks went by and Kevin was transferred to Spaulding Rehab.
They made the best of celebrating their wedding anniversary at Spaulding Rehab with an Italian Meal and flowers provided by The Joseph Middlemiss Big Heart Foundation and an Edible Arrangement:
Ali and Kevin express so much gratitude and appreciation for Kevin being able to speak, breathe on his own and that he no longer needed a feeding tube.
Their daughter Natalie and godson Aidan made this video set to Andy Grammer's song to wish Ali and Kevin Happy Anniversary:
I was blessed to accompany Ali to last weekend's Abilities Expo in Boston. Kevin was accompanied by his Spaulding Rehab Team led by his physical therapist.
While being stuck in Boston traffic, Ali and I had a chance to talk about the journey ahead and I shared my journey as a survivor of paralytic polio and then healing after the diagnosis of Post-Polio Syndrome. I was in awe of her grit, grace and gratitude and willingness to be open and vulnerable with me. She was inspired by my message of healing, hope and possibility.
At the Expo, Kevin and Ali were able to explore options for wheelchairs and a wheelchair van:
and had the opportunity to explore possibilities for living a full and vibrant life after a spinal cord injury:
While Kevin works in beast mode to maximize functioning in his therapies, members of Kevin's Army under the watchful eye of Nancy Cook are in beast mode adapting their dream home that they moved into only 6 months ago.
Boston's CBS Local station WBZ shared the story last night. You can see the story of this incredible army of volunteers at work by following this link.
"In that split second his life and his family’s was forever altered," Liam Martin reported in the WBZ News story. All who know and love Kevin and Ali have had our lives altered as well. Connections have been made that otherwise might not have been made through Kevin's different circles. A community that is #lacostestrong has come together weaving a powerful tapestry of love, kindness and generosity that I know is inspiring others that there is so much goodness in the world. And while none of us would have wanted this to happen, the ripples of kindness and goodness are being felt across the United States and around the globe as people wear LaCoste Strong t-shirts, run for Kevin holding him close in our hearts until he can run again
and come together in ways that give goosebumps and bring a tear to the eye.
Last weekend friends of the LaCostes had a Barn Party and raised $19,000!
But more funds are needed to help with the remodel, a van, a wheelchair, uncovered medical expenses, personal care and family expenses.
How you can help:
For the remodel immediate funds can be donated to: ***UPDATE 10/12*** The remodel was completed and Kevin was discharged today from Spaulding Rehab to a completely handicapped accessible home. Follow this link to a recent Fox25 News story.
Venmo money to Nancy Cook at Nancy-Cook-25
Send Nancy a check: P.O. Box 869 Westford 01886
Send a check to: Kevin LaCoste Building Fund
Jean D’Arc Credit Union
196 Littleton Rd.
Westford MA, 01886
Supplies and trades needed: ***EVERYTHING WAS DONATED OR FUNDED THROUGH THE TOWN AND COMMUNITY KNOWN AS KEVIN'S ARMY***
The amount of work done at the LaCoste home this weekend has been amazing! We are getting there, but there is still a lot of work to be done!
KNOWLEDGEABLE CARPENTERS NEEDED!
SATURDAY 9/28 8:30AM-3:30PM
SUNDAY 9/29 8:30AM-3:30PM
PLEASE EMAIL LaCosteremodel@gmail.com for more details. Please share if you know a carpenter that may be available.
Donate to the GoFundMe Page by following this link
Be a part of the Lotsa Helping Hands community by following this link.
Register for the 6th Annual Middlemiss Big Heart 5K happening on 9/28 by following this link. The LaCoste family is the beneficiary for the race.
Donate to Kevin Staffin's NYC Marathon Run. Once he reaches his goal of $3000 by race day, he will be required to don a Red Sox uniform. Kevin is a die hard Yankees fan but for his friend Kevin, he will go the distance and do whatever it takes to raise money. You can donate to Kevin's run by following this link
Attend Trivia Night:
Share this story with your friends and family. Send prayers and healing energy and hold the intention for a complete recovery for Kevin.
And remember: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
From my heart to yours,
In Health and Wellness,
Be sure to visit my website at www.marymcmanus.com
Hear my interview with Kendra Petrone on Magic 106.7's Exceptional Women Show by following this link
My books are available on Amazon and "Feel the Heal" and "The Adventures of Runnergirl 1953" are available in Natick Center Cultural District at Paula Romero Dunbar's Celebration Boutique Paper Fiesta coincidentally located on Mile 10 of the Boston Marathon Route.