CHELSEA — Unlike Robert Frost in his famed poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Ken Dudzik did not choose to take the road less traveled. After being diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2017 at age 58, Ken did not appear to have many choices. As his symptoms progressed and he lost the use of his legs, he faced the daunting prospect of finding a place to live.
“I was an outlier—too young socially and potentially too difficult a case medically for nearly all nursing homes,” said Dudzik.
But as fate would have it, he discovered the Leonard Florence Center for Living and experienced, for the first time, hope. “The excellent care, support and technology have allowed me a degree of independence I didn’t think possible after my diagnosis,” he said.
Dudzik worked as a forester with the U.S. Forest Service for 40 years, supporting a team of scientists studying biological and environmental influences on forest health and productivity. He appreciates the sheer beauty of the outdoors and enjoys the landscaped grounds at the center.
Said Dudzik, “I’ve encountered many unplanned divergences down roads I would never have willingly traveled, but now I appreciate my life each and every day. Living at the Leonard Florence Center for Living makes this possible.”
For Ken and all the ALS and MS (multiple sclerosis) residents at LFCL, the freedom to live independently is an incredibly precious gift. The ALS & MS Walk for Living on Oct. 18 celebrates these inspiring individuals and helps raise much-needed funds. Every single dollar raised goes directly back to patient care and programs for the ALS and MS residents.
Walk Virtually Anywhere
While the 12th annual ALS & MS Walk for Living will be virtual, the reasons behind the walk are more tangible than ever. The Leonard Florence Center for Living, operated by the nonprofit Chelsea Jewish Lifecare, is the country’s first urban model Green House® skilled nursing facility. Notably, the center cares for more individuals living with ALS under one roof than anywhere else in the world. What’s even more unique is that residents, many of whom are completely immobilized, can control lights, turn on the TV, call for the elevator, open doors and raise window shades, all with help of a computer and sensor that tracks head and eye movements for instruction. This technology enables them to move freely through the entire residence. It is this degree of independence that vastly improves the residents’ quality of life.
This year’s Walk for Living will honor Phyllis and Alan Bolotin. As longtime residents of the North Shore, they have contributed to organizations for years through their generosity, time, passion and dedication. “Phyllis and I are so proud to be involved with the Leonard Florence Center for Living and the 2020 Walk for Living,” said Alan Bolotin. “The Leonard Florence Center residents inspire us every day. It is our fervent hope that this event will raise funds and awareness about living with ALS and MS today.”
It’s easy to participate in this virtual two-mile walk. Participants can pick their own route, the people they choose to walk with or walk by themselves. They can choose to walk, run, roll, ride a bike or log their miles on a treadmill. They can also choose the day and time they would like to walk. The two miles can be completed prior to or on Oct. 18. The goal is to make this year the best ever. To register, simply go to the Walk for Living website (walkforliving.org) and click on register. All donations are tax-deductible.
“I continue to be amazed by our ALS and MS residents,” said Barry Berman, CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “Their unwavering zest for living inspires us every single day. Clearly, the Walk for Living brings together a community of passionate, caring individuals. We are deeply grateful to our residents, staff, families, friends and local community who support us year after year.”
Over the past 12 years, the Walk for Living has raised over $2 million. The goal is to make 2020 the best year ever. Once again, M&T Banks will be the Platinum Level sponsor; additional sponsors include A.H.O.A and The Independent Newspaper Group. Individual registrants raising more than $150 and teams raising more than $500 will receive commemorative T-shirts.