A fun family outing turned tragic for the Mahoney family of Levittown this summer while vacationing in North Carolina.
Andy Mahoney was tubing on the water with his 12-year-old son, Michael Mahoney, during a visit with his in-laws when he flipped off the tube and hit the water.
"He was face down in the water," remembers his wife, Sharon Mahoney. "He was drowning."
The impact with the water paralyzed Andy, leaving Michael in the water beside him. In a heroic act, Michael was able to swim to his father's rescue.
"Michael saved his life," said Sharon.
The Mahoney's were forced to extend their stay in North Carolina for two months while Andy underwent surgery for the compression of his spinal cord. Three disks had to be replaced, said Sharon.
"He is starting to get his functions back. He can move his arms; he can feed himself," Sharon said of her husband. "It's just really hard, strenuous therapy."
He is making progress, and the institute told Sharon her family should be back together within the next few weeks.
"It's really hard for Michael," said Sharon. "He was just telling me how much he misses all three of us having dinners together, doing family stuff, watching TV at night. He misses that a lot."
"My husband can't wait to come home," she added.
When he does come home, Andy will be in a wheelchair. This will make it necessary to modify the family's Levittown home.
In addition to this inevitable expense, Sharon has been working extra hours at her two jobs to pay extensive medical bills and support her son on her own. Her husband's benefits from his job as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service are running out.
To help this local family in need, a committee of friends and relatives has been working with the Long Island Spinal Cord Injury Resource Center (LISCIRC) to put together a fundraiser.
The fundraiser will take place at Mulcahy's of Wantagh, at 3232 Railroad Ave. on Saturday, Nov. 20 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The event will cost $50 per person and will include an open bar, DJ and buffet. There will also be a Chinese Auction and 50/50 raffle tickets.
Tickets can be bought in advance or at the door, and the proceeds will go to the Mahoney family for the renovations on their house and medical bills.
Anyone who is unable to attend but would like to help the Mahoney's can mail a donation to Help Andy Fund Trust at 325 Blacksmith Road, West Levittown, N.Y., 11756 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.