Remembering Cathy VerHey: ‘She became a voice for ALS …

September 11, 2016 - als

SCHOOLCRAFT, MI — It was accurately a kind of jubilee that Cathy VerHey loved.

Family and friends stuffing her Schoolcraft backyard. A prolonged list groaning with potluck dishes — messy joes, orange sherbet salad, several variations of Rice Krispie treats. Musician friends playing republic song on a homemade stage.

The usually thing blank was Cathy herself.

The Schoolcraft mom and mom died Jul 24 of amyotrophic parallel sclerosis, improved famous as ALS. Saturday’s party, hold dual days after Cathy would have marked her 51st birthday, was her commemorative celebration.

“I betrothed we wouldn’t cry today, though that’s a lie,”  Ashley VerHey, Cathy’s 21-year-old daughter, pronounced while addressing a dozens of attendees.

“Everyone here mislaid someone special on Jul 24,” she continued, her voice breaking. “I mislaid my mom and my unequivocally best friend.”

She was her mother’s categorical caregiver during a final year of her life, a purpose “that done me her savior on some days and her unequivocally misfortune rivalry on others.”

But on days when Ashley wanted to “throw in a towel,” she said, “I couldn’t. That smile. we could never give adult on that smile.”

Nor could she let down a mom who faced a crippling deadly illness with such strength and courage, Ashley said. “She never, ever gave up.”

Wiping divided tears, Ashley pronounced a day was unequivocally about celebrating Cathy’s life contra anguish her death. “She certain as ruin wouldn’t wish us crying.”

With that, Ashley stepped off a theatre and collected attendees for an ALS ice-bucket plea to lift income for a ALS Association.  

That a VerHeys incited a commemorative into an ALS fundraiser was no surprise: One of Cathy’s legacies will be a recognition she lifted about a disease.

After she was diagnosed with ALS in Jan 2015, Cathy authorised a course of her illness to be  documented in a array of stories in a Kalamazoo Gazette and on MLive.

Also famous as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS causes lapse of a engine neurons, causing people to remove flesh control, including a ability to walk, talk, pierce and swallow.

Cathy and her family spoke frankly about a earthy and romantic fee of ALS as she solemnly mislaid use of her legs, hands and voice. 

“She became a voice for ALS in this region,” pronounced Dr. Dustin Nowacek, Cathy’s neurologist, who was during Saturday’s memorial.

Her story generated so most attention, Nowacek said, that roughly on a daily basis, other patients or staff people during Bronson Methodist Hospital would ask him about her and send along their best wishes.

It wasn’t only people in a Kalamazoo area who followed Cathy’s story, family members said. There were people from all over a republic who contacted her after reading her story on a Internet.

In December, in fact, the VerHeys got a minute from republic thespian Randy Travis.

“Because of her, there are a lot some-more people who know about this disease,” Nowacek said. “She was a good disciple for ALS.”

Cathy also was a clinging mom and mother, and that was a other concentration of Saturday’s event. Cathy’s husband, Tony, and a couple’s 3 children — Ashley; Anthony, 17, and Sarah, 27, are still disorder from a detriment of a chairman who was a heart and essence of their family.

As it became apparent that his mom was about to die, Anthony said, he pulled out a wooden board that he done as a 9-year-old. Shaped like a heart, it reads “World’s Best Mom.” 

“I asked her if she remembered when we gave her that, and to keep that memory,” he said.

Tony VerHey pronounced he’s still entrance to grips with losing his mom of 28 years. 

“It’s been surreal ever given she passed,” he said. “I can’t find myself. It’s like there’s a large hole, and we don’t know how to fill it.”

Cathrine Cray, Cathy’s mother, pronounced she was dreading Saturday’s memorial.

“I didn’t wish currently to happen,” she said. “It means we’re unequivocally observant goodbye.”

Here are MLive links to stories about Cathy VerHey:

Devastating diagnosis means time is ticking for Schoolcraft mom and mother.

Newly diagnosed with ALS, Cathy VerHey graduates college.

ALS studious Cathy VerHey is creation this “the summer of Cathy.”

Outpouring of adore during equine uncover advantage for Cathy VerHey.

10 months after diagnosis, ALS takes the toll.

Cathy VerHey gets minute from Randy Travis.

A bittersweet Christmas for ALS studious and family.

15 months after ALS diagnosis, VerHeys onslaught with Cathy’s deterioration.

Cathy VerHey dies during age 50.

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