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Supporting Bill Blanchard

$125,301 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 383 people in 10 months
Created July 23, 2018
Friends of Bill Blanchard
on behalf of Rita Matli
UPDATE 8/23/2018: Please see a message from Bill Blanchard here by clicking on the "Updates" Tab

Supporting Bill Blanchard


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Bill Blanchard sustained a life changing spinal cord injury playing football for San Francisco’s Riordan High School in 1970 when he was 17 years old. As a result Bill was paralyzed from the neck down and has lived the last 48 years of his life as a quadriplegic in a wheelchair. Bill took on his disability the same way he played sports, with courage and determination, and has lived these years independently, graduating from, working for, and retiring from UC Berkeley, initially as an early medical retirement, and now, full retirement.

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However, upon his full retirement in June Bill lost a major source of income, UC sponsored Long Term Disability payments at $900.00 per month. Bill used these funds to help pay for his daily attendant care needs required for a quadriplegic to live independently. The loss of these funds threatens Bill’s ability to live independently in his home. In addition, concurrently with this loss of income, both his needs for, and the cost of, attendant care are rising. Bill anticipated this loss of income a year before it happened and diligently cut back on his expenses at home and researched other ways to replace the income in order to pay for attendant care, through social services and public benefits, but to no avail, as the options were either disqualifying or share of cost prohibitive.

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As well, recent serious illness, surgery, and hospitalizations have left Bill recovering in bed since January, and the need for attendant care increasing even further than anticipated and his newly reduced income will now barely cover the cost of basic attendant care, if that. In addition to Bill’s normal daily routine of an attendant getting him out of and into his bed into and out of his wheelchair daily, and helping with his morning and evening hygiene and medication regimes, attendant care is needed when he is bedbound to bring him meals, turn him in his bed to prevent pressure sores, help with the same daily hygienic and medication regimes but now including assistance with respiratory therapies and wound care.

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Bill’s need for financial assistance is immediate and will be ongoing for attendant care and possibly other needs such as adaptive equipment for everyday living that could help mitigate some of the attendant care needs by keeping Bill healthier, back in his wheelchair, able to do more for himself without help, and out of the hospital.

Throughout Bill’s life he always thought of others before himself in his school, family, and work lives, whether through his kindness, his volunteer work, or his patient listening to our stories and complaints, and now it is our turn to think of and support Bill.

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A MESSAGE FROM BILL BLANCHARD:

Dear Friends & Supporters,
As we enter the merry month of May, I hope you will indulge me a personal update, overdue acknowledgments, a few random thoughts and a word regarding Mother's Day.
I do not presume people are wondering why I continue to "post" here but don't show my face out there. Some friends know why. But for those who may have entertained the thought, allow me to update my situation. Recently I had my fourth surgery on a decubitus ulcer (pressure sore) under my right thigh. The ulcer developed while I was in an Intensive Care Unit for pneumonia the month of January 2018. Since then, when not in the hospital, I've had to be in bed for the vast majority of time because getting in my wheelchair could cause greater harm. This last surgery was more - if not completely - successful than the previous ones. About "80%" of the surgery (skin graft) took well. But the remaining area must grow new skin or another partial graft may be required. One way or the other it will take time before I'm back in my wheelchair on a daily basis. Not to worry, though, (or - maybe it is to worry) the streets of Berkeley/San Francisco have not seen the last of me. I hope to see some of you in the not too, too distant future. I extend my gratitude to all of you always.
I hope, in these posts and elsewhere, I have communicated clearly how much you - my family, friends & supporters - lift me up with your thoughtfulness, prayers, well wishes and generosity. With all of you, I never feel alone with my challenges. And my appreciation for all that Archbishop Riordan High School, its administration, staff, alumni and my fellow classmates have done for me is profound. There are, however, others I wish to gratefully acknowledge. My former classmates from St. Stephen's Grammar School. We had our 50th year reunion a couple of years ago - the class of '67. Seeing my fellow grammar school graduates at the Golden Mirror restaurant (free publicity) made me feel - and I tried to express it at the time - like I was coming home. Home to a group of decent, bright, witty kids - now adults - that I grew up alongside. With whom I played, laughed, learned, competed, debated, entered puberty, experienced crushes, heartbreaks. Then, as the Go Fund Me drive got underway I saw that many of these "kids" - some with their own grown kids - were right there with their kind hearts and offers of support. I wish I could thank all of you from St. Stephen's by name - especially those who were able to attend the October 20th fund raising dinner at Riordan. But I do not want to risk leaving someone out. So, from my heart, I thank you friends, neighbors, classmates of my youth, for your thoughtfulness and generosity...and for that one beautiful day when you all brought me home. Watch out for seagulls.
There are others whose support I value and appreciate. The wonderful, wild women formerly from Presentation High - Sarita, Doe, Linda and Patty. Those thoughtful men and former rivals who graduated from St. Ignatius High School. Everyone from everywhere who reached out to me with compassion and assistance. It has been to my amazement that I've received such blessings from people known and unknown to me. All I have to offer in return is my gratitude.
As I lay here in bed with my laptop, random thoughts worthy of acknowledging are rattling around inside my skull. 1) First off, the tree outside my window is rapidly sprouting green leaves. Spring has sprung once again. 2) The spirit of Spring and growth is flourishing at Riordan - thanks to Anne Seppi and the Development office - as the Crusader family made it rain donations to celebrate the high school's 70th anniversary. The investment will help grow programs and services. 3) If you want to know how to invest and manage your own money, may I suggest the book "5 BUCKETS, 4 SHOVELS, A BEACH AND A MAP: A Guide To Financial Security" by Riordan alum Stephen Mayer '72. It's written in a way that even a dim bulb like me can understand. 4) Congratulations to Joanne Hayes-White (sister of Riordan alum Dan Hayes '71) who retires on May 5th from her job as the first female, longest serving Fire Chief of the San Francisco Fire Department. The City should be grateful for her years of outstanding service as a firefighter and Fire Chief. May she - with her sons/family - have a happy, rewarding retirement.
This brings me to Mother's Day. To all the women reading this who lovingly (with all it's challenges) raised a child or children - may you enjoy a happy, well deserved Mother's Day! Speaking for myself, anything I've done in life that was right, kind or even noble (nothing comes to mind) was instilled in me by my mother...and father. Any shenanigan's I pulled off were on me...or the influence of my Riordan friends. As for my mom, I'll share a brief snippet of what I said at the celebration of her life. My mom and I ended up with a unique relationship. One moment, at 17 years of age, I'm about ready to enter the adult world. The next moment, I'm requiring the physical attention of an (semi-educated) infant. It was my mother who first provided that attention. It made for a complicated, challenging dance between us. BUT...I could have searched through the entire universe and not have found a better dance partner. Thank you, Mom.
Have a blessed Spring!
Bill Blanchard
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FROM BILL BLANCHARD:
Kudos and gratitude to Riordan.

As I sit here in bed watching the rain I decided to forgo what I should be doing and instead take advantage of my power to "post" on the Go Fund Me page. For what it's worth, I'm posting my belated acknowledgement and congratulations regarding recent developments at Riordan. Be forewarned, I speak of good news but for most of you - if not all - much of it's old news.

I congratulate Archbishop Riordan High School for the progress they have been achieving these past few years. This "progress" is represented by the needed structural improvements to the gym, football field and beyond. Upgrades made possible by the committed participation and thoughtful donations from alumni and parents, the hours of work behind and beyond the doors of the Development offices, Board of Trustees, fund raising groups and, no doubt, other departments and supporters who gave of their time and resources. Then, as is often the case, green lights were given to the projects due to the rise in generous financial contributions from those who believe in Riordan's overall mission. Or, so I surmise.

To begin with, the renovation of the basketball court/gym was long needed and naming it after Kevin Restani was an outstanding choice!
Kevin was not only a force of great talent as a basketball player he was a kind, decent, fun young man and a friend of many. I know friends of his - like Bill Nasser '70 - worked tirelessly to raise the needed funds. What the Board of Trustees and everyone involved accomplished showed heart and purpose. I had the privilege to be on the 1970 Championship team with Kevin and if they had the new court back then (with some spring in the floor) maybe even I could have "dunked" the basketball...that is if the Coach ever let me off the bench. Riordan's talented athletes and teams now have the court/gym they deserve and Riordan High School will forever have Kevin.

Without knowing them well, I have rarely come across a more principled and generous family than the major donors of the "Mayer Family Field." I have found Mike '71 and Steve 72' to be hard-working, intelligent, kind, generous men. And I've heard nothing but good about Tim '74 who was in my brother John's class. I assume the rest of the Mayer's are much the same. In Steve's recently released book "The Toughest Guy I Ever Knew...and other short stories," the "toughest guy" is his father. You can clearly see where the family got their values of doing the right thing, sticking to it during the rough times, thinking beyond yourself and regarding the needs of others. So, as an alum, I thank you Mayer family (and all the many contributors) for opening the gates to a new football field with your generosity. A new field on which Riordan's former football players probably would have loved to play.

Then, last month, came the most recent bit of good news...and it was a tremendous bit to behold. An old neighborhood and grammar school friend, Carol Conroy, was kind enough to email me the story of the Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Foundation's staggering $750,000 grant to Riordan for the building of: The Carl Gellert and Celia Berta Gellert Athletic Complex. The Athletic Complex housing the Mayer Family Field, a new baseball diamond, improved track, stands, etc. will provide an environment for superior physical education and team training, better competition, increased attendance and add a well deserved luster to Riordan athletics and Riordan the high school. People will notice; student/athletes will come. I thank Carol, Chair Steven Herrera, the other Trustees, the Development office and all who contributed to this project. And may Carl and Celia Berta Gellert be blessed.

I will, also, take advantage of this opportunity to congratulate Philip Cazahous '70 for being awarded the 2019 Chaminade Award. He thoughtfully gave back time and financial support to his Alma Mater and his generosity contributed to the school in many ways including the new facilities at Riordan.

Once again...congratulations Archbishop Riordan High School for these fantastic new developments! Now, along with support for classes in general education, technology and the sciences; may theater, art, music and other groups and programs that help develop imagination, expression, creativity and talent be so fortunate as to receive the funding they need to grow.

Taking a turn here, I know what it means to benefit from the generosity of others in time of need. I'm speaking now of the benefit dinner Riordan High School held for me in October. For that gift, that honor, I offer my deep sense of gratitude to the following staff at Riordan:
Director of Development and the Alumni - John Ring, Jennie Done, Anne Seppi, Karin Haskell, and the President of Development - Dr. Andrew Currier. I apologize to those individuals on Riordan's staff who contributed and I failed to mention - for my gratitude extends to you as well.

I thank Bill Nasser for generously stocking and picking up the bar tab.
As well as Sarita & Bob Ahern and their handsome son, along with all who volunteered at the benefit dinner. I wish I had everyone's name because your thoughtfulness means so much to me.

Of course the benefit dinner would not have happened were it not for the men of honor or the honorable men: Dan Hayes, Capt. Dave Mahoney, Steve Mayer. My deepest gratitude to my friends.

Lastly, thank you Martiin Snapp for your meaningful article on friendship in California Magazine and how high school friends came to my aid 50 years later. Thank you, as well, to Steven Rissotto for your fine article in the Winter edition of The Crusader newspaper titled:
"Crusader brothers band together to support classmate." And, thank you to Susan Sutton, CIE, who recommended Stephen for writing the story. He was a good choice. Ms. Sutton holds positions as an English Instructor and Newspaper Adviser at Riordan. I'd appreciate advice from any or all of the folks above on improving my writing.

Now, as I've been sitting here thinking of Riordan, and having said what I wanted to say, I notice how looking out the window, watching the rain and daydreaming, reminds me of being back in my high school classes.

With congratulations and gratitude,

Bill Blanchard
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FROM BILL BLANCHARD:

I was saddened when I read Mike Parodi had passed away. In part, I think, because he appeared to have so much spunk and such a passion for life that it didn't seem fair that his fuse went out. But, then what's fair?

I didn't know Mike that well but I was always glad to see and talk with him (at Riordan then City College) and he was always nice and encouraging to me. What I experienced was a good man.

So, I simply want to offer my condolences and prayers to his wife, children and his whole family. And to offer the same to all of you who were friends of Mike. I'm sure many of you have fond and fun memories of Mike that will lead to stories and laughter and, perhaps, ease your loss.

Thanks for passing this way, Mike.

Bill Blanchard
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AN UPDATE FROM BILL BLANCHARD:

Dear Friends and Supporters (Bright Lights),

I'm back from a long hospital stay. The trees outside my windows now stand barren against a grey sky. Surgery failed, again. Which means I'll be here in bed awhile. So these trees with their beautifully crooked and curved bare limbs will become my friends.

2018 was - for me - a difficult year...and it's bleeding into 2019. So I keep trying to fight the good fight. But not on my own. For half way through 2018 I was blessed. To my amazement, reaching out to me (to me?!) were hundreds of "bright lights"...friends, supporters...you.

As many of you know, last June two old high school friends, Dave Mahoney and Dan Hayes, knowing I was in the midst of financial/health care difficulties decided, without consulting me, to find a plan to help me. Enter Riordan alum Steve Mayer and with assistance from his employees Wyatt and Gail along with my sister, Rita, this Go Fund Me account exploded into hundreds of bright lights, friends and supporters, who shined and showered their caring spirits and generosity upon me. What a blessing...what good fortune have I.

I'm not new to being blessed, fortunate, lucky. Even on that summer day, in August of 1970, when I tried to tackle my fellow teammate, a nice young man and good football player, only to have my life permanently changed, there without hesitation were my parents and siblings to be by my side. Unfortunately, not everybody in similar situations receive such support...even from their families. But I was blessed to be brought up in a family that preached "take care of each other" and to put it into practice. Now, long after my parents, Tom and Kay, have passed away my siblings are still here by my side.

2018 was - for me - a difficult year. Yet, in October Riordan High School and friends held a benefit dinner for me (for me?!...didn't anyone check with the faculty who were there when I was a student?). Of course, leave it to me not to show up at my own party. But I heard about it. And I was thrilled to hear about old friends meeting, sharing stories, hugs and laughter with other old friends. Love was in the air...or the wine. Many are still meeting and laughing together. Nothing could be better. I sincerely thank all you fine folks at Riordan, my friends and all the volunteers who put in so much love and effort to pull it all together. Friends say it was a great night...I'm so sorry I wasn't there. I was "dressed" in a hospital gown at the time, but I was thinking of all of you and it still felt like a blessing. And may I humbly suggest...an honor

2018 is past; 2019 has yet to play out. I look at all my blessings this past year. My supportive family, friends who went out of their way to find me help, a fellow alum and business man who dedicated his time and his staffs time to design the plan for that help, and the hundreds of bright lights who opened their hearts and selflessly provided me big...big time help. All this AND Riordan's benefit dinner...for me?! How can I not see how fortunate I am. And how wonderful all of you have been.

As I lay in bed and look out my windows I feel blessed to have this view of barren trees with their beautifully crooked, curved limbs. I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Sometimes it's the simplest of things.

Have a blessed 2019.

Gratefully,
Bill
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$125,301 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 383 people in 10 months
Created July 23, 2018
Friends of Bill Blanchard
on behalf of Rita Matli
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