Chris Curtin, Head of Services and Board Chairman of MAC Angels, will be honored at the non-profit foundation’s annual gala on November 9 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Chris Curtin, Head of Services and Board Chairman of MAC Angels, will be honored at the non-profit foundation’s annual gala on November 9 at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase. The MAC Angels Foundation supports families with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), an incurable motor neuron disease. Its selfless volunteers, who work tirelessly to alleviate the emotional, physical, and financial challenges faced by patients and their families, have an indefatigable leader in Curtin.
“Fanfare is not my thing, but I’m very honored. I never thought I’d be on this journey, but I feel it was meant to be,” admitted the Halo of Hope honoree. “The more people we can bring in, the more funds we can raise, so I hope everyone comes to support the event.”
Curtin was catapulted into this ALS world in 2004, when his childhood friend, Claire Gormley Collier, whom he says inspires him to this day, was diagnosed with the terminal disease. Before Claire lost her courageous battle in 2009, she motivated family and friends to raise awareness and mobilize with the Friends of Claire Foundation. Three years ago, that organization joined forces with the Mary Ann Collier Foundation, named for Claire’s philanthropic mother-in-law, and MAC Angels was born.
Since its inception, MAC Angels has helped 80 families. Its army of volunteers infiltrates every aspect of the lives of their patients, whom they call P.A.L.S. (patients with ALS). Their mission is to enhance quality of life by offering compassion, education, and resources. They assist with doctor’s appointments, house calls, transportation, meals, palliative care, and funeral arrangements. They provide families with wheelchairs, hospital beds, ramps for their homes, and handicap vans, and acknowledge birthdays with flowers.
“We give as little or as much support as is wanted. It’s up to the caregivers and patients,” explained Curtin. “It makes us feel good to have P.A.L.S. ask for our help.”
Curtin meets with each new family. “It’s vital for families to understand that Claire’s dying wish was to keep her legacy alive by doing for others what we did for her,” he said. “It’s humbling to see the scared look in the eyes of those families who have recently received a diagnosis. They can’t believe complete strangers want to be part of their extended care team.”
Every week, Curtin holds a conference call with his team: Program Director Ellen DiCicco, Service Director Julie Buyon, and Social Worker Carol Sommerville, who covers Manhattan, Rockland County, and New Jersey. Curtin is currently in the process of looking for a social worker to cover Westchester and Connecticut. He has also recently started working with the Blazeman Foundation, which raises funds for ALS scientific research.
“We are strategically planning for the future because we keep growing at such a rapid pace,” said Curtin, who spreads the word at rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and hospices. “My ultimate goal is to take the organization nationwide and help families across the United States.”