Community helps stroke survivor return home

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By Barbara Polan Contributing Writer
Roy and Brenda Hansen enjoy their 50th wedding anniversary.

Marlborough – Many retired New Englanders winter in Florida and, for most, their annual trips there and back are routine. For Marlborough residents Roy and Brenda Hansen, though, their trip to Venice, Fla., this past winter was anything but.

On Jan. 25, Roy lived through a stroke. In addition to facing formidable medical bills, Roy remained in a nursing home in Venice through the first week in April, unable to afford $8,500 for the passage home.

The travel cost was astronomical because Roy is disabled (he has hemiparesis, with one side of his body paralyzed by the stroke) and requires a nurse's constant care, but the trip home was not covered by insurance.

Coming home was imperative because Roy will be undergoing at least a year of physical therapy, according to Roy and Brenda's son-in-law, Tom Reilly.

“My wife [ the Hansens” daughter, Diane] spent six weeks in Florida, bringing her [mother, Brenda] back and forth to the hospital in Sarasota,” Tom said several weeks ago while his in-laws were still stuck in Florida. “Her mom was very unhappy about being so far away from home and family during this trying time, and we just [couldn's] see them down there alone for a year of recovery.”

As a result, Tom, along with other members of the Hansen family, decided to help by holding a fund-raiser April 2, an event at the Riverside Gun Club in Hudson. The other family members who planned the fund-raiser included Diane (Roy and Brenda's daughter), Roy Jr. (Roy and Brenda's son) and his wife, Eileen, and Diane's daughter, Amy Allain. The event included a buffet dinner, music by the band “Still in the Cellar,” dancing, a raffle and an auction. It was attended by 140 people, including a large contingent from the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA), with members from the New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and North Carolina chapters, who “credited Roy with helping to grow their organization,” according to Tom.

Prizes distributed at the event included Bruins play-off tickets and autographed memorabilia and Stanley Cup tickets, all donated by the Bruins Foundation, and gift certificates to local businesses. In addition, other organizations contributed to the effort: the CVMA and the metrowest AA community.

The organizers” goal was to raise $5,000, approximately half of the cost of the Hansens” trip home. Tom reported after the event that the total amount raised reached $5,625.

The week following the fundraiser, leaving Florida April 6, Roy traveled with a nurse in a medical recreational vehicle, with Tom and Brenda following behind. Roy is now at Wingate in Sudbury.

Tom is pleased by how the community responded, with most attendees taking food donations to the event and everyone giving generously. Anyone else who would still like to help out – with medical expenses, home modifications and other costs associated with surviving a stroke – is welcome to do so by: (1) sending a check made out to Roy Hansen and mailed care of Thomas Reilly, P. O. Box 631, Hudson, MA 01749 or (2) visiting Roy at Wingate.

In light of what happened to his in-laws, Tom had advice for any other snowbirds: He suggested looking into travelers” medical insurance before heading south so that what happened to the Hansens does not happen to anyone else.