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Our Champions

Jenny Gore Dwyer

This is my ALS: A Love Story. It’s about a boy with blue eyes, and two kids.

Our love story begins in Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska. It’s a small island in Southeast Alaska and our claim to fame is we receive 13 feet, not inches, of rain a year. When the sun is out, and shining on the water, there is no better place to be!

It was on one of those sunny days, that I met my “boy” Patrick Ford Dwyer, on the back deck of a boat, in June 1985. The boat was owned by a friend of my mom’s. He called and asked if me or my sister Mary, both boat cooks, were available to cook on his salmon tender boat for the summer. My mom said I was. She hung up the phone and suggested I head out to the boat and talk about working for the summer. (When mom “suggests,” you do!)

So off I went. I met with the Captain, and then ran into the already hired crew. I laid eyes on Pat, his blue twinkling eyes drew me in, and well, that was that. We had a really fabulous summer working together on the boat. Then, Pat asked me to come to visit him in Seattle.

I may or may not have gone down to Seattle, under the guise of living with my sister Mary and looking for work! Six months later we were engaged. Six months later we bought our first boat. Six months after that, we were married. Husband and wife. Until death do us part.

We were together for 28 years; married for 26.5. During that time, we raised a family, built a business, and created a community of the best family and friends one could ever hope for. As husband and wife, we encountered many huge, life-changing events together. We lost our first boat. I fought cancer for three years. We suffered the devastating loss of good friends and family.

But, through it all we were sustained by that “love at first sight” love. But the life events that sustained us the most were the births of our beautiful children, Brenna and Sean. They were our “loves at first sight.”

In June of 2005, life hit us with a disease called ALS. My “boy,” my blue-eyed boy Pat was diagnosed with ALS. It came marching into our lives without a care in the world, and we had no idea what was about to pummel us. But what we did know was that we had the love to see it though, however that would be.

Husband and wife. Until death do us part.

It’s been 4.5 years since Pat passed away from his ALS. Pat loved life. He loved every single thing about it. He loved making deals, he loved arguing, umm, well let’s call it “debating!” He loved dancing, playing “drums” on the steering wheel while he was driving, and singing along to the radio. He loved laughing, and telling stories, and telling us all what to do!
But mostly he loved his children. He loved them loudly with his laughing, his stories, his “debating,” his blue twinkling eyes, his smile, and his favorite way, telling them what to do, ummm, let’s say “guiding them!”

I miss him. But Pat would be the first one to say, “live life!” So, onward I go.

ALS, even though Pat is gone, you didn’t win because my ALS: A Love Story is about a blue eyed boy, who gave to me the two greatest gifts in the whole wide world…Brenna and Sean Dwyer. When I am weak, they are strong, just like their father was in every way. ALS, you didn’t win because Pat’s love will continue with our children’s love stories.

Thanks for all the love, Pat.

#PFD #414 #Onward


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