Over $45k raised on GoFundMe for man with ALS
NEW CANAAN — Former Darien residents Chris and Peyton Thalacker moved to New Canaan in 2006 with their three children. A former youth football coach, Thalacker is a firsthand witness to the sports rivalry between the two neighboring towns.
“We lived in Darien for three years and we had a wonderful time raising our kids there. Two of them went to Holmes School,” Thalacker said.
While in Darien, Thalacker coached his son, Graham, as he played football in the Darien Junior Football League. After the family moved to New Canaan, Thalacker continued coaching his son at the New Canaan Youth Football program.
“Obviously there is a bit of a rivalry,” Thalacker, who also goes by the nickname “Cheese,” said with a chuckle. “We always played against the guys I had coached, but the rivalry is friendly and it was great to be in New Canaan.”
Thalacker’s life changed last summer when he was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which currently has no cure, attacks nerve cells that control muscles throughout the body, steadily rendering a person’s body useless.
An avid outdoorsman, the 54-year-old has already seen his outdoor activities greatly limited by the progressive disease; he has lost use of his left arm and his right arm is slowly fading.
May 12: Cocktail party and fundraiser at the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y.
June 16: “Cheese” golf event and fundraiser at the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxvill, N.Y.
October 20: Westport Walk to Defeat ALS at Sherwood Island State Park. For more details, go to web.alsa.org/WestportWalk
To contribute to Chris Thalacker’s GoFundMe, visit gofundme.com/chris-thalacker039s-life-with-als
For more details on his story, visit christhalacker.com/story
“As sad as this disease is, I remain positive and surrounded by lots of love from my wife, family and close friends,” Thalacker said. “They’ve been unbelievable in terms of support and it’s been quite humbling to see the outpouring of support from people in the community.”
Thalacker has appointments every three months to monitor the progress of the disease and he recently started seeing a physical therapist and is taking supplements to improve his diet. Thalacker works as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in Greenwich and though he puts in more hours from home now, he continues to visit the Greenwich office.
“I have a good group of supporting friends at work,” Thalacker said. “They’ve been very accommodating and my goal is to continue working.”
Scott Horton, a personal friend of Thalacker, met him when both were undergraduate students at Lehigh University back in the early 1980s. After Horton found out about Thalacker’s case, he took to GoFundMe to spread the word about his situation.
“Most people didn’t learn about his situation until this year,” Horton said. “Social media is one thing that can have an impact and I still feel like more can be done. People are being very responsive — people he might not even know have pitched in toward his fund.”
One of Thalacker’s pressing concerns is the well being of his family and his children’s education, especially as he expects his family’s savings to take a hit covering medical costs. His eldest, Graham, is at Montana State University and his daughter Gwyneth is studying at the University of Wisconsin, while his youngest, Brooke, is a freshman at New Canaan High School.
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the GoFundMe campaign had reached just over $46,000, thanks to contributions from about 100 people over the past two weeks.
Besides the online donations, other close friends of Thalacker are also trying to raise money in his name.
As a former member of the Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, N.Y., Thalacker said he has been humbled by the amount of support the club has given him. The club is hosting a cocktail party and fundraiser in his name May 12 and a golf event fundraiser June 16.
“All of this makes one feel very good on the inside, to see the compassion and the humanity of people,” Thalacker said.
Despite the disease’s progression, Thalacker remains effervescent, living day by day.
“The weather is getting warmer again and I want to start walking — my biggest concern is that I have to be very cautious as I’m losing use of my arms,” Thalacker said.