By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Kristen Ward was happy to begin working as a secretary at Sherwood Middle School (SMS) in September 2011 because the hours fit perfectly around her sons” sports schedules. Two weeks later, her husband, Art, suffered a stroke. Now, Kristen is grateful for her co-workers as an important part of her family's support system.
On Friday, February 7, from 6 to 9 p.m., SMS will host “A Heart for Art” to raise funds for a hydrotherapy pool for Art. Several months of aquatic therapy showed hopeful progress toward his goal of walking again. However, the facility with the pool has closed and their insurance no longer covers aquatic therapy.
Kristen casually discussed the possibility of a fundraiser with Kathy Mangan, an applied behavior analysis technician at the school, who took the idea and spearheaded “A Heart for Art.”
“We'se so humbled by the amount of support from my Sherwood community,” Kristen said. “Everyone I work with has been so supportive from the beginning. It's a long road getting through this setback in Art's life and they'se always checking to see how he's doing.”
Art had been coaching their sons” hockey teams while playing in an adult league himself. He also played hockey in high school and college. Kristen feels that his extensive athletic training has helped him with a disciplined rehabilitation.
“He played hockey for 40 years,” she said. “Always being around a team atmosphere pushed him to work hard and continues to push him. He refuses to accept defeat. His main goal is to walk on his own someday. He's determined and he works hard toward his goal every day.”
There's another reason Art is motivated.
“Our boys are the most important thing for him,” Kristen said. “He knows that he needs to be there for them.”
In the past few months since the facility with the pool closed, the family has been researching the purchase of a product called Endless Pool.
“Art's therapist knows about the company and the product, and she thinks the pool would be an excellent tool for him to have access to water,” Kristen explained. “The water therapy gives him the ability to strengthen his muscles without putting too much strain on them, so he has more freedom. One of his big challenges is getting balanced. He's less nervous knowing that if he falls or gets off balance in the water, it's not harmful like falling on the ground. It gives him extra confidence that he can work out to his potential without putting himself in harm's way.”
Proceeds from “A Heart for Art” will go toward the purchase of an Endless Pool.
The evening of family fun will include children's activities and live entertainment. Food will be available including pizza, salad and baked goods. A silent auction will feature items totaling over $10,000 including One Direction concert tickets with a parking pass, four Red Sox tickets behind the dugout, a stay at a Cape Cod vacation home, and sports memorabilia.
Admission is $5 per child, $10 per adult, or a family for a maximum of $20. Tickets will be sold at the door. The snow date is Friday, Feb. 28.
Kristen believes that the school is a fitting location for the fundraiser.
“This project is totally representative of our core values at SMS,” she said. “What the teachers and staff are doing is a really good example to the kids for how we should all be when we grow up.”
For more event and donation information, visit aheartforartfundrais.wix.com/aheartforart.