CHS Teacher, Coach in Contest to Win Handicapped-Accessible Van
Tom Gallagher, a local teacher and sports coach, was injured around last Christmas.
It hasn't been an easy road for local teacher and sports coach Tom Gallagher, but that hasn't stopped him from moving forward.
Gallagher, of Greenville, N.H. was paralyzed in a freak accident in December of last year and although he's now wheel-chair bound, he's back to coaching lacrosse at Chelmsford High School and looking forward to getting back in the classroom in the fall.
There's only one problem: Gallagher is depending on rides from others to get to lacrosse practices, and while his friends said he appreciates the help, he really needs a vehicle of his own.
Gallagher's wife Annette discovered Life Moving Forward's contest in light of Mobility Awareness Month in which the organization is giving away three fully-equipped handicapped vehicles to those in need.
Shannon Michaud, a friend of the Gallaghers, said she and the communities who know their story have rallied around it to get Tom a van.
"It's just been amazing how everything has come about and he is in first place right now, he was in fourth or fifth place and just the word started getting out between various organizations and the news getting contacted about it," she said. "Since then the numbers have just increased so much and the support ... it's been awesome to watch."
Michaud said Gallagher's relying on the community to transport him different places has been a great support, but it probably can't last forever.
"He's depending on our awesome community to help transport him (to lacrosse practices) and back pretty much every day of the week ... but he's relying on people not getting sick, and no family emergencies coming up, in order to get back to coaching," she said. "And in September he’ll be teaching again full-time so by then he’s definitely really need to get a car."
But medical expenses have been a burden on the family, Michaud said, and the unexpected expenses have set them back.
"Hopefully he can take first place in this and win it, and if not, we’ll come up with a fundriaisng effort to try to help him get him a car," she said.
Michaud said Gallagher's story is resonating with community members because he and his wife never hesitate to help out when asked.
"Tom is the first one to help anybody, it could be a stranger or someone he's known for the past 30 years," she said. "He and Annette own (a local cafe) and they've done so many fundraising efforts for people in the community. They're just always giving to the community."
Friends, family and neighbors looking to help out the Gallaghers look at it as paying it forward, Michaud said.
"You ask and they do it, and even if you don’t ask, they still do it. You can see how big their hearts are and the community sees it too. They're just great to look up to and a great family. They're an inspiration," she said.
Voting for Tom Gallagher can be done here. Voting closes May 13.
On May 18, a fundraiser for Gallagher will also be held at Marty's Ice Cream in Mason, N.H. The event starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10. Anyone interested in attending or sponsoring the event by providing food should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.