By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – A few months ago, the Community Advocate reported plans for “A Heart for Art,” a fundraiser hosted by Sherwood Middle School with proceeds going toward the purchase of a therapy pool for Shrewsbury resident Art Ward. He suffered a stroke two weeks after his wife, Kristen, began working as a secretary at the school in 2011. According to Kristen, the fundraiser was an even bigger success than they anticipated.
“I expected people to come who I know from the school, but it was amazing to also see so many people we know from the town,” she said. “And people also came from surrounding communities. Two sisters from Grafton told us they read the article and wanted to come support me and my husband.”
About 200 people attended the fundraiser, which raised $38,000. The evening of family fun included children's activities, food and live entertainment. A silent auction featured items totaling over $10,000.
A friend of the Ward family with connections to New England Sports Network managed to get the fundraiser announced during a Bruins game.
“A gentleman told us he heard about the event at a Bruins game and he came to bid on sports memorabilia in the silent auction,” Kristen relayed.
The hockey connection was fitting. Prior to the stroke, Art had been coaching their sons” hockey teams while playing in an adult league himself. He also played hockey in high school and college.
“There were so many unexpected things that came about from the newspaper article,” Kristen said.
The biggest unexpected result of the coverage was the donation of a therapy pool from Jason Ward (no relation) and Diane Hunter, owners of Ferrari Pools in Shrewsbury.
“Ferrari Pools donated a therapy pool after they read about the “Heart for Art” fundraiser and they realized that Art had coached their son, Jared, in hockey. He played for Art as a Midget for the Northstar Selects in Westborough. They said that Art was so instrumental in their son's life at a time when he needed the support. Jared is now the goalie at Westborough High School,” Kristen said.
The donated pool is larger than the model they were planning to purchase. Hence, the construction costs are higher. The family's contractor gave them an estimated quote of $45,000 to $50,000. They'se hopeful that materials will be donated to decrease the cost.
“We have $38,000 already from the fundraiser; it would help if we could get the materials needed,” Kristen said. “It's been Art's goal to do water therapy ever since he met a stroke patient at a conference. He told Art that he was able to get out of the wheelchair because of doing water therapy. Since then, Art's goal has been to do it as often as he can.”
Anyone able to donate materials including wood, windows and flooring can contact Kristen at [email protected].