Friday, September 19, 2014

Motorcycle ride this weekend to benefit IPF - By Michelle Libby


This Sunday, bikers can take a scenic ride around the Sebago region to raise awareness and hopefully money for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) research. Each year 40,000 people die from Pulmonary Fibrosis and Betty Jo Cash wants to find a way to stop this disease that directly affected her family when her father was diagnosed in 2013. 
 
“I don’t want other families to go through what my family is going through,” Betty Jo said. 

Betty Jo was approached by a woman who had organized a ride for IPF. She asked Cash to hold one in honor of Cash’s father, David Watts. Watts, a 68-year-old Windham resident, was okay with having the ride, but he wanted the money to go to research for a cure for the disease that was stealing his breath. September is pulmonary awareness month, so the perfect time to hold a fundraising ride. 

IPF is a “relentless scarring process of the lung that leaves the patient unable to breathe. PF remains untreatable and terminal.” By not breathing, the oxygen is not moved around the body, delivering needed nutrients to the heart, brain and other vital organs. 

Watts is on a breathing machine 24/7. He has a portable machine he calls “his girlfriend,” but that only gives him three hours of air before he has to return home to recharge it, which takes two hours, he said. “It’s frustrating. This thing (the tubing) is always hung up on something. It’s in the way.”

His symptoms were tiring easily and everything was slowing down. “The worst part was getting diagnosed. It took two and a half years to get diagnosed,” Watts said. “For seven years he went to the emergency room swearing he was having a heart attack, but that wasn’t the problem. “They thought I was a hypochondriac.”

Dr. Elizabeth North, finally figured it out, he said. “There is nothing they can do.”  

“Dad is very independent,” said Betty Jo. “Now he can’t raise his heart rate. This disease diminishes the quality of life.” 

Watts worked at the Brunswick Naval Air Station for 32 years, 20 of those using heavy equipment. He was also a plow driver for the Town of Windham. Now he is a part time worker with the Salvation Army. He likes to be busy and has a good sense of humor. 

The Ride IPF starts at 9 a.m. at the Windham Veteran’s Center. Watts will ride in a car, but as a motorcycle enthusiast, he will be happy to hear the rumble from his seat. He misses riding and going to planet fitness to work out. He still drives and is encouraged to keep working as part of his treatment.
Sunday, September 21, it will be kickstands up at 11 a.m. There will be speakers between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and on the return there will be a barbeque lunch, music by deBreeze N’ Keys, a live auction and T-shirts for sale. The ride is free, but donations are greatly appreciated, Cash said. 

Bikers are known for riding for causes. Be it Toys for Tots or against childhood bullying, bikers do so much for so many,” said Cash’s husband, Norm. 

“When they’re out there rattling your windows, it’s for a reason,” Watts said.

The initial goal was to have 50 bikes signed up, but now on Facebook there are over 173 signed up.
“It’s important for me and for everyone to see him. He’s a national hero. This is our two time Vietnam Vet. See he’s a real person,” Betty Jo said. “We need a cure. People don’t realize this disease is as prevalent as it is.” 

“I asked my doctor if there was anything in the pipeline for this disease. She said the Chinese have a good start on something. It wouldn’t be in time for me,” Watts said. 

For more on the ride visit www.rideIPF.com or visit them on Facebook – Riding for Pulmonary Fibrosis. For more on IPF, visit www.CoalitionforPF.org. Not a motorcyclist? Donations can be made directly through either website. 

“We don’t care what you ride,” Betty Jo said. “You can even ride a Schwinn, if you can keep up.”




Nostalgic cars in abundance at the Windham Car Show - By Michelle Libby


The 21st Annual Windham Car Show saw over 300 cars from antique autos build before 1949 to muscle cars and everything in between last Sunday behind the Windham Mall. Hundreds of people stopped by to catch a look at the cars from their youth and to salivate over restored beauties. 
 
“It’s nice to see the fantastic appreciation for all the cars we grew up with. It’s nice to see a true survivor just like us,” said Dean Martin of Westbrook, who likes the big block Chevys. Dan Burnell from Portland likes Chevys as well, but he really likes the old classic cars, he said. 

Car shows allow people to check out their favorite cars all in one place. 

“I have actually seen a few cars I’ve never seen before,” said Mark Herring. 

Frank Jimino, a local mechanic, has been coordinating judges for the event since his children were in school, now his grandchildren are in school. “There’s nice stuff, like always,” he said. “Hopefully the boosters made money.” Jimino also said he likes to watch the crowds and their reactions to the cars. This year he had 20 judges to judge four classes and an overall winner. 

Bill Webber from Gorham won the Best in Show prize with his 1966 Shelby GT 350 Mustang.
Arthur and Debbie Vaughan brought their Jeep to the event, but Debbie said she likes the ’55 and ’56 Chevys. 
 
“I’d go for a Camaro any day,” Arthur admitted. 

Robert Sanborn from Scarborough has been doing car shows and restoring his truck for 10 years. The first time he attended a show he said he was a Plain Jane. After adding ghost flames and lowering the body 2 and a half inches. “There’s not much I haven’t done to it,” Sanborn said. 

Sanborn likes the smaller shows because they are a lot of fun and the people are nice. It’s always nice to get a trophy, but mostly it’s about the organization the money benefits. 

The Windham-Raymond Athletic Boosters raised approximately $8,800 for items not budgeted for in the athletic budget at RSU14.












ALS Ice Bucket Challenge hits close to home for Windham Christian Academy - By Michelle Libby



Last Friday, on a hot September day, the staff and students at Windham Christian Academy opened their hearts and wallets to raise money to support ALS, but for the WCA community, ALS has affected them directly with the passing of Jaclyn Taylor’s father, Keith Taylor, from ALS this past spring and the father of Matt Gregoire, John, who is still fighting the battle. 

“It was truly heartening to see the outpouring of love and joy at such an event,” said John Gregoire, the co-founder of The Hope-JG Foundation, which received more than $400 in donations from the event.
The money raised will go toward the building of a home in Maine for meeting the specific needs of those who suffer from ALS and Multiple Sclerosis.   

The need for a house is explained by John in an email, since he is speech impaired. “Gail Kennett had ALS and, as of June of last year, had been in the Maine Medical Center for over a year. The reason for that is, she was vented, as many ALS patients are, but unbelievably, there are no nursing homes/long term are facilities which will accept a patient on a ventilator. One of the things that makes ALS different from all other neuromuscular diseases is the mind stays intact and alert even though the body may be paralyzed (Stephen Hawking being the most notable example).”

John continues to talk about the Steve Saling ALS/MS Residence in Massachusetts. “We made arrangements with Steve for a tour and were blown away at the technology and quality of life of the residents, one of whom (Patrick O'Brien) is completely paralyzed and ventilator dependent. Patrick is finishing producing a movie about his ALS experience.” One way to see the ALS residence is to visit www.hope-jg.org/#!projects/c21kz.  

Students at WCA paid $5 to dump ice water on a teacher. It cost $10 to douse Principal Roy Mickelson. He purchased 40 pounds of ice for the challenge. 

Just before he was soaked, Mickelson told John Gregoire that he would pay for Matt and Jaclyn to dump a big tub of water on him. The two didn’t hesitate to get at the back of the line.  

The $400 is not enough to fully fund the residence which will give these people the independent living they need. John estimates that it will cost between $3 and 5 million. 

The options for someone with ALS or MS who is vented to breath is the hospital or hospice without a facility like this house, said Linda Gregoire, John’s wife. 

“(The Ice Bucket Challenge) has really kept him going,” Linda said. “It gives him a purpose. He’s got a heart to help people in the same situation.”









Warden and trooper delight large crowd at Raymond Village Library at book signing - By Michelle Libby


To a full library, John Ford, Sr. and Mark Nickerson told stories about their careers in law enforcement in Maine. Both men are authors. Ford wrote Suddenly, the Cider Didn’t Taste So Good: Adventures of a Game Warden in Maine and The Cider Still Tastes Funny!: Further Adventures of a Game Warden in Maine. Nickerson wrote Blue Lights in the Night about his adventures as a Maine State Trooper in Northern Maine.


Library director Sally Holt introduced the pair as “These two are the rage of the State of Maine,” and she was right. From audience members 14 to 80, everyone had a smile on their face and laughed at the comedy of errors these two lived through. 

Ford grew up in Shapleigh in York County and knew from an early age that he wanted to be a Game Warden. He came from a long line of police officers and his mother was a wildlife rehabilitator meaning that he had unusual pets growing up. Like a skunk and a raccoon. 

He joined the Air Force to see the world and was surprised to be stationed in Topsham, 60 miles from home. He took the Warden’s test before he turned 21, when he could officially join up. He was excited about his second station in the Air Force, until he got the orders…Charleston Hill…just north of Bangor. When he got out of the Air Force, he was given $2.50 in travel pay. 
 
Nickerson’s grandparents lived eight doors down the road from Ford’s grandparents in Sanford. From the time he was 7 or 8 years old, he wanted to be a state trooper. “Back then, it was seven days a week, 24 hours a day. I never saw my dad growing up,” Nickerson said.

As soon as Ford turned 21, the Warden Service called him up and asked him “Are you single?” That was the first question they asked, he said. They offered him the Burnham district, a place where they hate Game Wardens. “It was the poaching capital of the state. I thought to Christ I’d won the Powerball,” Ford laughed. He thought it was going to be an exciting 20 years. “I really loved it. It was everything I’d dreamed of.” 

Ford’s father was the one who suggested he keep a diary of his day to day adventures. He was on duty in 1970 when snowmobiles came on the Maine scene, and then in 1971, he was introduced to Miranda Rights. He worked 110 to 120 hours a week for $78. 

“We actually did get training,” said Nickerson. In 1990 he retired from the State Police and ran for the high sheriff of Waldo County. Ford started visiting him there, since they had worked so closely together over the years. 

“He had an office,” Ford said. So that is where they told their “war” stories. The first story Nickerson wrote was about a middle aged driver who had been driving while drinking. “He’s what we call a keepa,” Nickerson said. The man was shown the front seat of the cruiser. At one point the man asked to borrow the Vicks Nickerson was using for a head cold. He said “sure” and the man proceeded to smear Vicks on Nickerson’s uniform from knee to shoulder. Nickerson said he went after the man, breaking the seat, knocking the guy’s glasses off and landing on Ford who was sitting in the back seat. 

“I had to take him to jail and I hate taking people to jail,” Nickerson said. The man kept saying “I think you’ve hurt me. I can’t’ see a thing.” Ford was snickering in the backseat. 

Nickerson was beginning to get nervous. The man couldn’t see and then at the jail he ran into a wall. He turned on Ford to find out what was so funny. 
 
“I smeared Vicks all over his glasses.” 

“It went by just as fast as my father said it would. We had a ball working together,” Ford said of his career and Nickerson.

Law enforcement and their training they are required to take has changed dramatically over the years. “Maybe it’s people like me who are responsible for all the training they have to do,” Ford admitted.
The night was entertaining and it is recommended that when Ford and Nickerson are speaking don’t miss the show.