Lending a helping hand

Published 8:58 am Saturday, August 13, 2011

In early July, Crystal Rhodes Moseley of Honoraville received the kind of news no parent wants to hear.

Her son Owen, just shy of his first birthday, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).

“You just never think this is going to happen,” Moseley said. “He’d never been sick a day in his life.”

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Joan McGough, a fellow Honoraville resident, has a pretty good idea of what Moseley and her family face each day.

McGough’s husband, Ronnie, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the age of 60. Initially, the treatments at the Montgomery Cancer Center seemed successful, but the disease returned. In spite of undergoing extensive testing and treatment in Houston, Texas, Ronnie lost his battle with cancer, passing away in October 2009.

“It’s just a very difficult and stressful time for the families of those with a catastrophic illness. And it’s a very expensive time, too,” McGough said.

“We had good insurance, but we still paid a lot out of pocket for traveling expenses. I stayed with Ronnie at the hospital so I was constantly having to buy my meals.  And I know a lot of people aren’t as well off as we were.”

After her husband’s death, some friends approached McGough about the possibility of starting a fund to help people in the community who have a family member battling a catastrophic illness, and are dealing with all the extra expenses associated with caring for a seriously ill family member.

“I talked with my family about it. Ronnie was such a sweet man and he loved doing for other people, so we felt like it was the right thing to do,” McGough said. “So I put in the initial funds to get it started. We announced the formation of the Ronnie McGough Memorial Foundation last October, the first anniversary of his death.”

The non-profit group has already assisted several families in the area, including one family with no insurance.

Now they are helping Owen’s family, too.  Recently, McGough’s granddaughter, Reagan, and her friends raised $500 at a lemonade stand in Greenville — all of which was presented in a check to the Moseleys by 7-year-old Reagan.

“Reagan didn’t even know Owen. She just knew she wanted to raise money to help someone with cancer,” McGough said.

“For her to get to go to Children’s Hospital and meet little Owen and share that donation with him meant a lot to that little girl. And the people of Greenville were so very, very generous. They only asked for a minimum $1 donation, but many people gave more.”

Moseley says it is a wonderful thing to see a community coming together to help families in times of crisis.

“It’s amazing, it really is, what people can do when they work together,” Moseley said.

Because all those who work with the foundation are volunteers, there is no overhead, McGough said, with 100 percent of the monies going to the families.

“It’s a small foundation and we would love to see it grow so we can spread our territory, but we are really happy that we’ve been able to do what we have for the people in our community, too,” she said.

“We depend on community support to help raise funds, and the community has been wonderful.”

To learn more about the Ronnie McGough Memorial Foundation, visit its website at www.ronniemcgoughfoundation.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ronniemcgoughfoundation