More than 20 people took to the streets of Auburn on Oct. 17, braving wind and rain to help a Boy Scout raise money for a local home for the terminally ill.
After returning from Boy Scout camp in August, 17-year-old Ted Connors started thinking about what kind of project he wanted to organize in order to earn his Eagle Scout badge. His first idea was to organize a bottle-and-can drive, but he was told that would conflict with Auburn’s autumn food drive.
Ted, who belongs to Auburn’s St. Alphonsus Parish, then talked with someone from Options for Independence, an independent-living center in the area that helps people with disabilities make their own decisions and become involved in activities and community life. Ted received a list of potential project ideas, one of which involved raising money for Matthew House. This idea “just popped out at me,” Ted said.
Matthew House, which opened in August 2002, is a two-bed residential home for the terminally ill. At Matthew House, all of a resident’s emotional and spiritual needs are taken care of along with the patient’s physical needs, including food and medical care.
“It’s an incredible place to live if you’re dying, because the care is so superb. Truly our goal is to spoil them as much as we can,” said Wendy Young, the house’s residence director. “People in the community here have been so incredibly generous, and we totally operate by private donations and by fundraising. The community supports the whole thing.”
Residents are cared for by volunteers during the day and by paid staff overnight. Funds donated by the community are used to pay for everything from the home’s gas and electricity bills to patients’ food and medical needs.
After learning more about Matthew House, Ted knew that this was the cause he wanted to support and thought a walkathon would be an ideal way to do it.
“I thought maybe I could get enough money to pay for medical supplies or anything they need,” he said.
Ted then got to work making fliers announcing the walkathon and designing advertisements to run in local newspapers. He also created pledge sheets and distributed them to walkers who signed up in advance. Several members of Ted’s Scout troop and a bunch of his friends from marching band at Auburn High School were more than willing to help out and volunteered to walk, Ted said. Everything went fairly smoothly, until the day of the walkathon dawned dreary and cold.
“It was cold and rainy and windy, but yet it did not dampen their spirit. The kids had a great time,” said Young. When the participants weren’t walking, they huddled in Matthew House’s garage and enjoyed hot chocolate, cider and doughnuts, she added.
“It was raining and it was cold, but for the weather it was a good turnout. If it was sunny, I probably would have gotten more walkers,” Ted said.
As it was, between 20 and 25 people showed up for the walk, which raised $500 for Matthew House. After the walkathon, Young was happy that so much had been raised and touched by Ted’s efforts.
“Kids like him really deserve the spotlight, and it’s not that he wanted the spotlight. Anybody that would stand out in that kind of weather with a smile on his face … he really impressed me,” Young said.