Brashinger: Family, friends stand up for Frankfort man with ALS
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistfirstname.lastname@example.org May 2, 2013 1:12PM
(From left) Lori Meehan, Patrick Meehan, and Mike Meehan at a spring 2012 football game at Illinois State University. | Supplied photo
Updated: June 6, 2013 6:16AM
Mike Meehan, of Frankfort, has three sisters who want him to act like their little brother and let them do something for him.
The 51-year-old husband, father and business owner was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the fall of 2012 after being misdiagnosed for more than a year.
The fatal neuromuscular disease spreads rapidly and has no treatment or cure, so it has understandably turned Meehan and his family’s world upside down.
Friends and family want to help in any way they can.
“He grew up with three sisters who smothered him … like girls do, and Mike would make a point that he would do things on his own,” Mary Meehan, Mike’s sister, said. “He was always the man in charge.”
Mary Meehan said her brother joined the family business, Quality Storage Products, after graduating from college and was “virtually running the company” before long, allowing his parents, John and Phyllis Meehan, of Frankfort, to eventually retire without worry.
The business was in good hands.
The plan was that Meehan would take over the business and perhaps pass it on to his children one day, but that plan has changed.
“He’s gone from this fiercely independent man to someone who’s totally dependent on others,” Mary Meehan said.
Meehan’s symptoms appeared in March 2011 when he had difficulty gripping a golf club. He saw several doctors about his condition, and because there was more than one diagnosis, the family kept searching for someone who could fix the problem.
“We didn’t want to hear that it was ALS,” his sister said.
One doctor suggested that Meehan’s old injuries from his days playing football at the University of Pittsburgh were the cause of paralysis in both arms. But surgery to correct the problem and follow-up physical therapy did not yield positive results.
“He went into (the rehab facility) walking and came out in a wheelchair,” Mary Meehan said, adding that he’s now confined to a wheelchair.
As difficult as it has been for Meehan’s wife, Lori, and their children, Casey, 23, and Patrick, 19, and other family members to watch Meehan decline physically, they are happy to take care of him.
Lori’s parents, Bill and Shirley Addy, have returned to Frankfort from their home in Arizona to help the family, and John Meehan, now in his 80s, is back working at the family business.
There is also a heavy financial burden that family and friends want to help ease.
A fundraiser, “A Night for Mike Stand up to ALS” has been organized by Mary Meehan and her sisters — Peggy Kramer, of New Jersey, and Marty Carlson, of Michigan — as well as Lori Meehan’s sister, Denise Powers, and their brother, Bill Addy Jr., and many friends.
Mary Meehan said the group hopes that people who know Meehan as the guy who was instrumental in starting the Frankfort Falcons youth football league, as the Lincoln-Way East freshman football coach, as a fellow St. Anthony’s parishioner or just “always the greatest friend to have” will support Mike and his family.
“A Night for Mike Standing up to ALS” will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. May 17 at the Pipefitters’ 597 Training Center, 10850 187th St., Mokena. The cost is $25 per ticket, $30 at the door and includes dinner and live entertainment. There also will be a silent auction and raffles.
Financial donations can be made to A Night for Mike, c/o William Addy, 9444 Ashley Court, Frankfort, IL 60423 or by calling (815) 534-5781. For more information, call Mary Meehan at (708) 860-8937.