In the fall of 2016, a conversation between two people on how best to help a community member whose medical needs were outpacing insurance payments led to one fantastic event.
But first, the backstory…
When Melody Pacheco, administrative assistant to the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, got a call from Dr. Amy Wiegandt, she wasn’t surprised. The two have been friends for years. But Wiegandt wasn’t making a social call; she needed to brainstorm with someone she respected as an organizer, a person willing and able to get things done. Wiegandt wanted Pacheco to help put together a fundraiser for her patient, Thomas Daener.
Daener, who has been coping with Muscular Sclerosis for nearly 12 years, is not a stranger to Pacheco. The two have been employees of the town for nearly 30 years. “We go way back,” Pacheco said. As the disease has progressed, Wiegandt has been by Daener’s side, coordinating care and attempting to get equipment paid for by his insurance carrier. Exhausting those efforts, Wiegandt wasn’t about to give up. Pacheco recalls Wiegandt’s conjure, “Why can’t the community do an event?”
The rest is now history.
“You couldn’t move in that place,” Pacheco said of the Knights of Columbus hall where the dinner took place on April 8. “There must have been 300 people there,” she said. And although the fundraiser was not a surprise to Daener or his wife Katie and son Tommy, the outpouring of support was.
“All I can say is wow,” Pacheco stated, adding that the Daener family was overwhelmed. She said the event was like nothing seen in the community before.
Pacheco credits the doctor for her caring, loving concern for her patients. “Insurance doesn’t pay for everything,” Pacheco remarked. Wiegandt believes that if Daener has a mobility device that would allow him to stand for periods of time, he would benefit. Pacheco said that Daener needs additional physical therapy and evaluation to determine what type of equipment would provide the best result for him, and with over $26,000 in the kitty, it may now became a reality.
“We wanted to raise about $6,000 – that was the dream,” Pacheco said of the original plan. “We really do care for one another around here.” She said that with the support of the selectmen, town administrator, as well as Highway Superintendent Barry Denham, for whom Daener has worked for many years, “We got it done,” she said with a chuckle.
Of Daener, Pacheco said, “He is the power, an example to everyone.”
Donations are still being accepted for about a week, Pacheco said, and may be dropped off at the selectmen’s office. Checks should be made payable to The Thomas Daener Fund.
By Marilou Newell