The town has banded together to help a local teacher after a freak accident overthe holidays. After he suffered the herniated disk when he was hauling in his christmas tree, Tom Gallagher was paralyzed from the waist down when an unnoticed herniated disk ruptured.
The town is now holding several fundraisers over the coming weeks to benefit his cause.
Gallagher, though living in New Ipswich, N.H., teaches grade 8 algebra at McCarthy Middle School, and coaches hockey, football, and lacrosse at Chelmsford High School. Gallagher also owns Nennie’s 5 Star Café, a New Ipswich eatery and catering company, along with his wife Annette.
Shannon Michaud is a friend of the Gallagher family, and is a lead organizer of the events, along with family members.
Michaud has put together a vendor and craft fair, something she is dubbing a “shopping mall." The event runs Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the McCarthy Middle School, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Chelmsford High School.
Those looking to attend can expect vendors like Mary Kay, Lia Sophia, Princess House, and Scentsy, as well as handmade goods like quilts and embroidery items. The vendors are donating both time and commissions from sales to the fund.
Another fundraising night is being held on Feb. 3 at Princeton Station in North Chelmsford. Tickets are $15 or $25 for a couple, and can be purchased at the McCarthy Middle School office. The night will feature a DJ, activities, light refreshments, and other fundraising activities such as raffles and silent auctions. Michaud said that generous donors have provided a Maine weekend camping trip and a $399 iRobot for the auction thus far. Anyone wishing to contribute to the auction can email the fundraiser directly.
“Chelmsford has been incredible with the fundraising efforts,” said Michaud. A series of fundraisers has also been organized by Michaud, family, and friends, in Gallagher’s hometown.
The organizers of the fundraisers hope to raise money, not only for Gallagher’s medical expenses, but also to offset the costs to renovate the Gallagher’s home to meet ADA standards. Contractors are working to install hardwood floors, change door widths, and install ramps and other ADA compliant furnishings.
“There is an entire remodel that needs to take place at their house, and it is in progress,” said Michaud. “It’s amazing what the construction guys have already accomplished.”
The family has simply run out of funds for materials and labor.
Although Gallagher wasn’t initially expected to return home until February, doctors now believe he may be ready as early as January 19.
“Because he’s so determined to get out, he has just amazed the physical therapist, with...he’s been doing, and how quickly,” said Michaud. Because of this, she said the family has been working to get as many things done as possible before he returns.
Michaud believes the fundraisers are one way of giving back to someone who has helped so many others. According to her, the Gallaghers are very community-oriented, helping organize cancer-awareness walks and were always “willing to go the extra mile for others.”
“It just goes back to what Tom and Annette do,” said Michaud. “Tom and Annette are the first ones to help anybody that might need help...it’s just kind of time to pay it forward.”
A fund has also been started at TD Bank, called the Tom Gallagher Fund, where those looking to help can donate directly to the fund. Questions about the fund can be directed to (603) 878-6200.
“It’s incredible to see how everyone’s come together for him,” said Michaud.
A Feb. 5 pancake breakfast is also being organized by McCarthy Middle School at Summer Place.
For more information about the fundraising efforts, a dedicated email, firstname.lastname@example.org, has been set up for communication.