February 12, 2010
At age 50, Joan Dancy, a mother of two from Middletown, was told that she had ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in muscle weakness and atrophy. She also was told that there was no cure for the disease, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Dancy and her fiance, Terry Magovern, found that despite the dense population and numerous medical centers in the area, there were few resources available locally to help people afflicted with ALS.
Before Dancy died, she asked Magovern to change that situation. It was her wish to establish a grass-roots organization to help ALS patients and their families in Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Dancy’s wish became a reality when Magovern founded the Joan Dancy & PALS (People with ALS) Foundation.
Recognizing that the disease impacts the everyday lives of patients and their loved ones in many ways, the Joan Dancy & PALS Foundation provides direct grants to address critical individual needs and hosts a monthly support group meeting at Riverview and Ocean medical centers.
Saker ShopRites recently presented a $270,000 check to the organization to help in its mission.
Since Magovern’s death in 2007, the organization’s efforts are carried on by a dedicated board of directors. Sean Magovern, Terry’s son, has assumed the role as president and has pledged to keep the organization strong.
“The work that the Dancy organization has done in just a few short years astounds me,” Sean Magovern said. “Through the generosity of local businesses like Saker ShopRites and their customers and associates, as well as community members, the Joan Dancy & PALS Foundation has been able to make a real difference in the quality of life of local ALS patients, their families and their caregivers.”
“Terry was so very proud of how far the organization came in a short time and I am dedicated to fulfilling his vision to provide even more services for our local area ‘PALS’.”