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Newton fund-raiser for family dealing with ALS

Southborough residents Ray Thompson (left) and Dan O’Rourke are behind the Wicked Mud Run on Saturday.

Southborough residents Ray Thompson (left) and Dan O’Rourke are behind the Wicked Mud Run on Saturday.

FOUNDER’S AWARD: Within a span of 18 months, the teenage daughter and son of Framingham resident Marilyn Price Spivack both suffered traumatic brain injuries. Debby Price has required 24-hour care since her car accident in March 1975, and Jon Price succumbed to injuries from a motorcycle accident in August 1976.

In their living room in August 1980, Spivack, her husband, Dr. Martin Spivack, and more than a dozen others formed the National Head Injury Foundation, which later became the Brain Injury Association of America. In 1982, they incorporated the chapter known now as the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, which serves more than 60,000 people and offers 34 support groups statewide.

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On Wednesday, Price Spivack will be honored with a Founder’s Award at “Celebrate the Journey,” the state organization’s 30th-anniversary gala taking place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Moakley US Courthouse in Boston. Other honorees include Newton resident Dr. Douglas I. Katz, medical director of the acquired brain injury program at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital.

Price Spivack, neurotrauma rehabilitation outreach coordinator for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, called the honor a “great reflection” of the organization’s accomplishments. However, she said, more treatment options and services are still badly needed for the 1.7 million Americans who suffer traumatic brain injury each year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, as well as general awareness and education.

“Just as in 1975,” Price Spivack said, “prevention is the only cure.”

ALTERNATIVE PATH: On Sept. 10, 2012, Scott Ellmore of Milford was enjoying the New England Patriots season opener on television with family members when he tweaked his back during an awkward high-five attempt with his brother. A visit to the emergency department the following day led to tests that revealed a dire, undiagnosed condition: stage 4 esophageal cancer that had spread to his liver.

Ellmore, 49, said he dismissed his doctor’s assessment that he would live for six months with no treatment, or eight months with chemotherapy, as “unacceptable.” The following month, he began a 12-week course of alternative cancer treatments in Germany. He then traveled at least once a week for seven months to Linchitz Medical Wellness in New York for infusion therapy.

A Navy veteran who works as a test engineer at Adcole Corp. in Marlborough, Ellmore said he has been reimbursed for only a small portion of his medical expenses by his health insurer. As a result, his friends launched a campaign to help cover his bills. Their progress is documented — and donations can be made — online at www.gofundme.com/helpscott, where the tally last week showed $64,452 had been raised toward a $200,000 goal.

Ellmore said he is determined to spend many more quality years with Lina, his wife of 26 years, and their daughters, 21-year-old Kristina and 19-year-old Katie.

“I’d like to not be the focus of the spotlight, but I want to see my kids grow up, get married, have grandkids,” he said. “I’m so grateful and overwhelmed by people’s kindness and generosity.”

COMMUNITY EFFORT: Community Harvest, an evening of humor, poetry, and song to benefit the Matchan-Israel family of Newton, will take place on Oct. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Avodah, 45 Puddingstone Lane in Newton Centre.

David Israel, a radiologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and assistant radiology professor at Harvard Medical School, was diagnosed in 2010 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He and his wife, Boston Globe reporter Linda Matchan, have two children, Sol and Sara.

The fund-raising event will be hosted by comedian Jimmy Tingle, and will feature former poet laureate Robert Pinsky ; Newton resident Hankus Netsky and his Klezmer Conservatory Band; vocalist and fiddler Eden MacAdam-Somer ; and vocalists Lisa Jacobs and Janice Octavia Allen.

According to Matchan, the emotional challenges of ALS are exacerbated because so many of the costs for treatment are not covered by insurance.

“As a newspaper reporter, I’m used to being on the other side, writing about families facing difficult circumstances,” she said. “It’s strange asking for help myself, but I’ve been completely blown away by the support from the Boston arts community, our temple members, and friends who are helping organize this event. To me, it’s truly a community harvest.”

To purchase tickets to the benefit event, visit tickets.jimmytingle.com. For information about silent auction items, or to make a donation, go to www.communityharvest2013.com.

WHEN MUD IS FUN: After meeting three years ago, Southborough residents Ray Thompson and Dan O’Rourke became friends through their shared love of running. They searched for an obstacle course that would be fun and challenging, yet appealing to the average person, and then created their own.

The next installment of the duo’s Wicked Mud Run series will take place Saturday on the Ski Ward property at 1000 Main St. in Shrewsbury, with the first heat heading off at 11 a.m. The 5K course will have participants running through mud and up and down hills, as well as braving walls and beams, trenches of water, and a variety of obstacles such as the sandbag gauntlet.

After the runners hose down, they can enjoy live music, a barbecue lunch, and beer from Cisco Brewers of Nantucket. Prizes are given for the top female and male finishers, and best Halloween-themed costume in each heat.

As with the inaugural Wicked Mud Run in June, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Team Up! with Autism Speaks, Big Nick’s Ride for the Fallen, and the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance. The first event, which took place in Lancaster, drew 162 participants and raised $2,375 for local charities,

The Wicked Mud Run is open to ages 16 and older. For more information or to register, go to www.wickedmudrun.com.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cindycantrell20@gmail.com.
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