Liam Frawley has been home since Sept. 1. But countless hours of speech, occupational and physical therapies lie ahead of the Tappan Zee athletic director, who suffered a burst brain aneurism last January and still can’t walk or speak.
The 48-year-old father of a 14- and 16-year-old requires costly home aide services and his wife of 22 years, Janine, wants to get a wheelchair-accessible van to take him to his three-hour, twice-weekly therapy sessions at Helen Hayes Hospital and to also just get him out of their New City house more often.
She’d also like to hire a speech therapist to work with him at home.
Those things will be costly, which is one reason for Saturday’s “Guys Night Out” casino fundraiser.
The night, which is billed as a men’s event, will include blackjack, craps, roulette, a cigar bar and a showing of the first ever UFC fight at Madison Square Garden. It will run 7 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Bailey Street in Blauvelt.
This will be the third benefit for Frawley, who is paralyzed on his right side.
“It’s nice of people to think of him. It’s nice to see that they care,” Janine said.
Saturday’s fundraiser is being put on by Bailey’s Smokehouse in Blauvelt.
Tickets are $125 in advance and $150 at the door, although pre-purchase is requested.
That fee covers food and drink and 200 game chips.
Bailey’s manager Paul Butler said the goal is to draw 150-200 people to raise thousands for Frawley’s needs.
As of Wednesday, he said 80-100 tickets had been sold.
A lot of what is raised is expected to come from extra chip sales with, for instance, $10 buying 100 chips and $50 buying 800.
At the end of the evening, chips will be traded in for raffle tickets for items as small as gift baskets and coolers, to an overnight Holiday Inn stay, to sports memorabilia, to golf bags and clubs, to a riding lawnmower.
“It will be a great evening and well worth it,” Butler promised.
The Smokehouse got involved in part because many of its customers are from the Tappan Zee community. And what Butler has heard about Frawley has been overwhelmingly positive.
“He’s kind of shifted the entire athletic department into the 21st century,” Butler said.
In fact, Frawley won multiple awards – some national – for his efforts. Three years ago, Coach & Athletic Director Magazine chose Tappan Zee as the winner of its national Interscholastic Athletic Program of Excellence Award, saying it provided the best student-athlete experience.
Frawley won three education awards for the 2015-16 school year. One was the 2016 National Federation of State High School Associations’ Educator of the Year award.
“He’s definitely, definitely, definitely making progress but there’s still a long way to go,” friend and former Pearl River athletic director Tom Doherty said.
In part, Doherty noted Frawley is happy to hear positive news about his district, reacting with a thumbs up, since he’s cannot speak.
He has also gained weight since coming home, Janine Frawley said, laughing while crediting her good cooking.
She’s anxious for him to start speaking and believes speech therapy at home will hasten that process.
“Outpatient (insurance) only pays two days of therapy,” she said. “It’s not really that much for what he needs for the extent everything happened to him. He needs to start talking.”
She can’t leave her husband alone. He has a great aide who, wanting him to get better, does a lot of extra work with him, she said. But because of finances, aide coverage is limited to six mornings a week.
Frawley works out at home with an electronic pedal device that keeps both his legs moving, even though his right leg is frozen in a bent position at this point, she said.
He has one leg brace and was just fitted for another to stretch muscles that are painfully tight.
A van would allow her to take Liam for massages but also just to give him a change of scenery.
“I can’t wait to take my man out for a ride,” she said.
“It’s a lot,” she said of her husband’s condition, adding, “I do realize it’s going to be more long-term than I thought.”
But Janine, who began dating Liam when they were Manhattan College undergrads, isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re together 29 years,” she said. “I’m in for the long haul.”
Tickets for Saturday’s event may be purchased by contacting Tom Doherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling him at 551-427-2951, or at Bailey’s Smokehouse, which is at 136 East Erie St. in Blauvelt; phone: 845-398-1454.
Those who cannot attend but would still like to make a donation may do so at www.gofundme.com/frawleystrong.
Any donation checks or checks for the casino night should be made payable to Frawley Strong.