Help Me To Help Joe: A Families Story Of Life With ALS

I struggled a bit with the words on such an emotional subject, so please bear with me…

In 2014, The Ice Bucket Challenge invaded every aspect of the World Wide Web particularly in the realm of social media.  Everyone was inspired to raise awareness and more importantly money for ALS. (Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As of today even with all the money and awareness raised we are still without a cure.  While much funding was raised through such an effort, in reality many people with ALS struggle with the overwhelming financial burden placed on themselves and their families because of their illness everyday.

Just imagine little bits of your life being chipped away and the body which once carried you through life’s journeys begins to betray you.  You require constant care and help from others.  That is the reality of ALS.


This wicked disease slowly deprives a person of the things that reap quality of life.  The arms you hug with, the hands you write, and create with, the legs that carry you through your life.  Even the lungs you breathe the air with.  To have just one of these things taken from you is hard to accept.

2015, proved to be a difficult year for me.  I suffered a severe shoulder injury and loss the use of my right hand, and arm for a period of about 4 weeks.   I had just a small taste of what it was like to lose just one of those things.  I am a fiercely independent person and I struggled emotionally with the fact that I had to depend on others to do certain tasks.  My life and daily routine became severely disrupted.  I was in a state of constant anxiety and worry.  I didn’t handle things as well as I should have.  It was a lesson I had to learn.  In life things don’t always go as planned.  It really is about how you react to all those curve balls.  It’s about the spirit in which you carry yourself and fight on and face the challenges.  No one has done that with more strength and courage then my friend and colleague Donna and her husband Joe.    Joe was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.  The disease progressed fairly rapidly and as of today, he has very little use of his body from the neck down.  It severely affected his lungs and early on he required a ventilator to breathe.  This requires around the clock nursing and care.  Despite the most severe of challenges Joe and Donna continue to create a life with what has been dealt to them.  Always pleasant and kind Donna approached everything with a smile despite all that she was going through.   Joe is thankful he got to see his 11th grandchild even though he couldn’t reach out his arms to hold her, He was still there in the moment with his family.  His mind is still vibrant and alive.  He is able to communicate with his loved ones.   Appreciating every moment despite the tragedies he could have allowed to break him.  I wish I had a just a morsel of that kind of strength.   For Donna and Joe the everyday challenges are overwhelming.

Just when it seemed it couldn’t get any worse….it did.  In 2013 the union that Joe worked for and received his benefits from decided to change its plan.  Despite promising Joe that his 27 year career would be enough to guarantee a lifetime of healthcare they cut his benefits for his nursing which would require him to go into hospice.  Donna and Joe fought hard and had their case go before a federal court, and lost.  The judge agreed this was deplorable, and promises were clearly violated, but the union broke no laws and subsequently there was nothing that could be done.

But that is where he was wrong.  There is something we can do.  Just like the Ice Bucket challenge, the internet has proved to bring people together in large numbers and sometimes even for the greater good.  I am hoping this can happen here for my friend, even if writing this can generate just one more dollar to help Joe reach his goals, or one person willing to share his story with others through social media it is all worth it.  In his own words, he just wants the opportunity to make more memories.  It’s also important to fight against the unfair elements of his story and so many others faced with life changing health issues.  No family should have to be forced to give up their life even more imprtant quality of life.

No one expresses this better than Joe himself.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this video.  In it Joe tells you in his own words what his life is worth to him as it is to all of us.  It means EVERYTHING.

Because where there is life, there is still hope.

If you can help, there is a Go Fund Me  site set up on behalf of Joe. Even if you cannot donate at this time, I ask that you spread the word.  A lot of good things can happen when things go viral.  Please help me help Joe to reach his goals.   He deserves to bask in what we all tend to take for granted everyday our memories.

Forgotten Angels: A Horse Rescue With A lot Of Heart

This past weekend, I took my daughter to a wonderful, non-profit, local horse rescue called Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue.     The rescue saves healthy horses that are sent to slaughter and sick and abused horses in need of intervention and care.  Their mission is to promote public awareness of needless horse slaughter and animal abuse.   They involve the local community through events, and activities teaching patience and kindness to all creatures.  You can also follow the cause on Facebook.

We could not have asked for a more perfect weather.  The sun was shining and it was a perfect day to spend on the farm.  The toddler apprentice was particularly enchanted by Snowflake a 7 year-old mini mare up for adoption.  She enjoyed feeding all the horses and donkeys carrots, and handfuls of plucked grass.  She even had a chance to sit on Snowflake’s back.  For those of you unfamiliar with my past, for many years I worked as a Vet Tech and have a deep love for helping sick, unwanted and abused animals.  It is especially sad how we treat our horses who evolved with us through time and have contributed so much to our evolution and humanity.   I want to pass this love, and respect on to my daughter, and it made me smile to see her face light up just being around these gentle creatures.


My daughter feeding Snowflake, a miniature horse currently up for adoption.


We had great conversation with one of the volunteers on the farm about all its residents and learned about the rescue which has been operating for the last two years.  I also had an opportunity to engage another hobby of mine photography.   I photographed the animals and they did not disappoint and seemed to love all the attention, and “Ham It Up” for the camera.


PHOTOS: Residents of The Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue








“Glory” The rescue is raising money so this blind horse can have eye surgery.  You can donate here.





Currently, The Rescue Sponsors a program where you can adopt a horse for the month for a donation.  Please see the following link for more information.    They also accept donations large or small, and you can also purchase Rescue “Swag” at their online store to help raise money for the cause.


Our daughter was especially good on Saturday, and her daddy gave her a small reward which she “happily” donated to her horse friends.  I was told that thanks to our daughter’s efforts, the horses would have more carrots to snack on.

In Memory Of



“Pickles” Photo courtesy of Forgotten Angels Equine Rescue

This post is dedicated to Pickles.  We met Pickles during our visit briefly, but she was not feeling well.  Pickles was an elderly horse who sadly developed colic that due to her age, she could not recover from.   She passed away later that evening.   It was a huge loss to all those who loved her as Pickles was a kids and rescue favorite.  We are blessed to have had a chance to meet Pickles on her final day.  God Bless this beautiful horse forever free crossing the Rainbow Bridge.



The Genealogy Series: Murder in a small town, and the man who cracked the case.

Margaret “Maggie” Sullivan, was born in 1890, in Moorestown, NJ (Formally Chester Township, NJ) to Irish Immigrant parents Patrick F. Sullivan and Ellen L.  Larkin.  (She is the sister of William Sullivan who is my husband’s grandfather, and daughter’s Great-Grandfather.)  On November 26th 1912, Margaret married John H. Bradshaw  in Moorestown, NJ.   They began raising a family and had two children.

In 1917, John Bradshaw Sr. registered for the World War I draft.  He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a Railroad Policeman.  Draft registration cards are a great resource for family researchers as they offer a treasure trove of information, such as birthdate, full name, marital status and much more. It also offers a physical description of the individual.  John is described as “tall, and stout with grey eyes and brown hair.”

Draft Card

Sometime after 1917,  John Bradshaw became a Moorestown Police Officer, and later would become chief of police of the town.  Moorestown, NJ is a quiet New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. The town was founded in 1686 when John Rodman bought a few hundred acres of land.  The town having originally been named “Village of Rodmantown.” and for many years after that was known as Chester Township.  The town consisted of mostly farm land, and later many residents found  work on the railroad that cut-through the town.

I never expected when researching the Bradshaw Family, that I would come across such very high-profile murder cases John Bradshaw was involved in solving.  I discovered articles posted online in the archives of the NY Tribune, and Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, mentioning the details of these cases.  Genealogy has opened my eyes to the facts.  Many horrible acts we think occur more now, happened back then as well, and with more frequency than even I previously realized.  All you have to do is look at any of these old newspaper articles and the stories within the pages. These horrors occurred everywhere and in every time. No town in America was safe from crime as it remains today, and Moorestown was no exception.  It became apparent after reading the details of these two high-profile cases Chief Bradshaw was involved in.   These cases were the Matilda Russo Murder,  and The Quigley Murder He also worked along side the famous detective Ellis Parker.

In 1921, Matilda Russo was the seven year-old daughter of town Tailor Frank Russo.  Matilda went missing one day.  Her body was discovered in the basement of a neighbor’s house, and the accused murderer was on the run with a huge manhunt ensuing.   A terrible child murder, the horrible details of which were outlined in the newspapers.  Turns out, John Bradshaw helped break the case and discovered the body of this little girl.  Because his name was mentioned in the above articles, I was able to discover these stories via search engines.  One of the best and probably most under used resources in genealogy are search engines and the best part is they are free!  I was able to discover more about John Bradshaw then I had ever expected this way, including online images of some of the actual newspaper articles.  According to the 1930 Federal Census, John remained chief of police into the 30’s and remained in Moorestown on Second Street with his wife Maggie and their two adult sons John (Pipefitter)  and Edward (mechanic).

John Bradshaw passed away in 1953, and Margaret Bradshaw passed away 12- years later, in 1963.  They are buried in Mt. Carmel Cemetary in Moorestown, NJ.


No let up in hunt for child’s slayer                                                                                                     Evening Public Ledger June 14th 1921

Matilda Russo News Article Have you discovered any surprises using search engines?  Do you Google your ancestor’s names and info regularly?