By Debbie Weisberg / Posted on September 28th, 2015
7th Annual ALS & MS Walk for Living Raised Over $100,000!
Event Supported Revolutionary Urban Green House® Model Residences
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHELSEA, MA (September 2015) –The 7th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living, a fundraiser to support individuals with ALS and MS as well as the innovative residences at the Leonard Florence for Living, was held on Sunday, September 27, 10am at 165 Captains Row on Admirals Hill.
The Leonard Florence Center for Living (LFCL) is the first urban model GREEN HOUSE® homes in the country and the world’s only fully vented ALS residence. The LFCL features neurological specialty residences with cutting-edge assistive technology, allowing individuals with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) to receive skilled nursing care in a nurturing home environment.
Bonnie Berthiaume was the first multiple sclerosis resident to move into the Leonard Florence Center for Living in 2010. The Center has, quite simply, changed her life. “Since moving here, I have been able to participate in wonderful outings; we have gone to Red Sox games, movies and the theatre,” explains Bonnie. “I have even gone skydiving three times!” The Leonard Florence Center, sponsored by the Chelsea Jewish Foundation, consists of ten homes, with ten residents living in each home. The ALS and MS residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, are able to control the lights, turn on the TV, open doors and raise window shades — just by using their eyes.
Ten years after his ALS diagnosis, Patrick O’Brien, another LFCL resident, premiered his extraordinary film “TransFatty Lives” at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. Lauded by both critics and attendees, the film won the “Top Audience Award,” which is the highest possible honor and chosen by peers. Although Patrick needs round-the-clock ventilation, he lives an active and busy life at the Center. In addition to producing films, Patrick travels, attends concerts, sporting events, movies and premiers. “I was officially diagnosed with ALS when I was 30 years old,” explains O’Brien. “It is a fatal and incurable disease yet I have chosen to do something with my illness. This challenge has given me a focal point for my energies, and will hopefully inspire others to keep moving through their own adversities.”
Over the years, the ALS & MS Walk for Living has become an integral part of the local community. Over 1000 people attended this year’s walk. The event also honored Everett High School teacher Susan Lomas, who has been involved in the Walk since the start and has been instrumental in getting so many of the Everett High School’s students involved throughout the years. Moreover, Chelsea High School students and their families turned out in full force for this event, as they have in the past.
Popular radio and TV personality Billy Costa, co-host of “Matty in the Morning” on KISS 108, host of “Dining Playbook” on NESN and host of “High School Quiz Show” on WGBH was this year’s emcee and kicked off the two-mile walk. Major corporate sponsors included Biogen, M&T Bank, AHOA, Kayem and Clifton Larson. Immediately following the walk, there was a BBQ hosted by Chili’s, doughnuts provided by Dunkin Donuts, face painting, live dance performances, a petting zoo, a photo booth and a raffle. The Walk for Living is one of the few walks that are dog-friendly.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of our local communities, businesses, residents and their families, and the many friends of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation,” said Barry Berman, CEO of the Chelsea Jewish Foundation. “The Walk for Living is crucial in helping our residents live richer and fuller lives.”
“I was excited to be involved with 7th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living,” states Billy Costa. “It is our hope that the Walk for Living will help to raise funds and awareness about living with ALS and MS today. I have lost two close friends to ALS over the last few years, so I understand just how devastating these diseases can be. The technological advances, amenities and services at the Leonard Florence Center for Living are truly inspiring.”
Support the ALS & MS Walk for Living by making a much-needed donation at www.walkforliving.org or contact Joelle Smith at 617-409-8973 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To view videos about the LFCL residents, please go to http://vimeo.com/24641660, http://vimeo.com/39457786 and https://vimeo.com/56267225.
By Debbie Weisberg / Posted on April 20th, 2015
The Green House homes in Chelsea, MA are groundbreaking for many reasons, including having the first residence where people living with ALS can continue to live full and meaningful lives, while getting the care that they need. These homes have incredible technology that enables the residents to control their environment and communicate with the use of high-tech computers. Patrick O’Brian is a film producer and DeeJay who is living with ALS and his film was recently screened at the Tribeca Filmfest.
Leonard Florence Center’s very own Patrick O’Brien debuted his award-winning documentary film, TransFatty Lives, at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival on April 16 in New York City. The world premiere was attended by renowned film producers, actors, celebrities, politicians and VIP’s. In addition to Patrick, Chelsea Jewish Foundation’s “celebrities” were also on hand for the festivities including, CEO, Barry Berman and famed resident and designer of The Green House home for people living with ALS, Steve Saling. Without a doubt, it was a day to cherish.
This extraordinary film focuses upon living with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.) Patrick hopes the film will reach as many people as possible to help increase awareness and mobilization against ALS.
“I was officially diagnosed with ALS when I was 30 years old,” said Patrick O’Brien. “It is a fatal and incurable disease. I have chosen to do something with my illness. As you will see, I turned the cameras on myself and began to document my journey with ALS on 35mm motion picture film. This challenge has given me a focal point for my energies, and will hopefully inspire others to keep moving through their own adversities.”
Ten years in the making, TransFatty Lives explores what it means to live, what it means to die and what is important in life. Containing no talking heads or lengthy interviews, the film relies instead on a distinct visual style all its own.
Two days before the festival, Patrick received a congratulatory letter from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. In the letter, The Governor cited Patrick’s incredible passion, talent, bravery and optimistic outlook. As he put it, “The screening of your film will serve as an inspiration to people worldwide who are fighting their own battles, while raising awareness for ALS.”