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March 21, 2013

Cooperstown native helps woman in need

Facebook friends aids ALS patient

By Cathy B. Koplen
Cooperstown Crier

---- — One good deed recently performed went a long way in a short time.

When Cooperstown native Michael “Mick” McCartney was contacted by a former schoolmate about raising money for a motorized scooter, he provided the scooter the next day.

McCartney  owns two health care businesses in the Buffalo area. He was contacted by Rebekah McManus, a pharmacy technician at Market Street Apothecary in Corning, about an inexpensive motorized wheelchair for a woman who was in advanced stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

McManus was considering an event to raise money for a wheelchair.

McCartney said he would send a wheelchair to the patient. He just asked that the wheelchair be returned when it was no longer needed.

“Tuesday at work we learned that Shelly Cromwell is in the advanced stages of ALS,” McManus said. “I was talking to my boss and I said, I am going to call Mick. He and I are Facebook friends. When I told him about Shelly, he said to me, ‘Becky, for you, I will do it for free.’”

After speaking with McManus on Tuesday, McCartney called a manufacturer and had a new wheelchair sent to Cromwell’s address. It arrived on Thursday.

“This is the most wonderful thing.” Cromwell said. “I don’t even know him at all.”

Cromwell spoke haltingly as the disease has affected her muscular control.

“You do not know what this means to me,” Cromwell said. “Now, I can go from room to room without asking someone to do something for me. I can do for myself and that makes me felt good. I am happier now that I can get around.”

According to the ALS Association, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. It affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons are affected, the brain is not able to initiate and control muscle movement.

“Thank goodness for Facebook,” McCartney said. “When Becky called me, she told me there was a 39-year-old woman in an advanced stage of ALS. I figured I could help someone with their quality of life.

“I have been in this business for 16 years. Your insurance doesn’t cover a lot of things, and some people do not even have insurance. “

McCartney is the chief executive officer and owner of Respiratory Services of Western New York and Home Medical Equipment of Western New York, located in Cheektowaga near Buffalo.

McManus and McCartney were raised in Cooperstown and went to high school together. They each moved away, but kept in touch via Facebook. McManus has since moved back to the area, while McCartney said he visits frequently and has family still living in the area.

“This is such a wonderful story,” said McManus. “I had no idea he was going to just give her one. This is really a good deed.”