My Real-Life Story

Jeanne Marie Donnelly

© Copyright 2022 by Jeanne Marie Donnally

Photo (c) 2010 by Richard Loller

Photo (c) 2010 by Richard Loller

The two dates that changed my life were October 28th 2012 and December 8th, 2014.  

This story will chronicle how these two dates intertwine. October 28th 2014 is the day hurricane Sandy hit New York. Prior to this, I never thought much about natural disasters or there life-altering impact. Life was great as the weather until that evening.

A few days before my family that live in Long Beach New York came to a consensus. We all agreed to stay together though the duration of the storm. My brotherís house was not considered to be outside in the flood zone by meteorologist. Their home was away from the water and was on higher ground. We figured, like many people in Long Beach, that we would get a bit of water in our basements and that would be it. My mother and I resided in a two family home and our house was on the first floor. Considering that the Reynolds was our next door neighbor our house got flooded out and home no longer existed. 

The following morning the people that did not evacuate were shipped like cattle to Nassau Community College. It served as an emergency shelter. The reason we had to go there was because it was thought of as special needs shelter. We needed that because I live with a disability called Cerebral Palsy which affects my fine motor skills. Therefore, I have some equipment like a wheelchair and a walker to assist me with my daily needs. My brother Dennis picked us up from shelter and brought us to stay with him and his family until we could figure out our next move. The community of Londonderry, New Hampshire literally adopted us with open arms. We came with the clothes on our backs. 

In the midst of all this, Dennis was diagnosed with terminal kidney cancer and even had his kidney removed. Through all that he still managed to work and put his needs aside and put us first. This was nothing out of the ordinary for him. His wife, his two boys and his job were the top priority for him. He never shirked from his sense of responsibility or work ethic. Dennis also coached pee wee football and high school football. He mentored his team members to find the right path whenever necessary. Each mentoring relationship evolved into lifelong friendships. Young boys who are now men who will always love the coach. Upon returning home, each of my brotherís players that he once coached would come back to thank him for changing their lives. Then on December 8, 2014 a dark shadow fell upon my family, Londonderry, and our comer the world because Dennis lost his battle with kidney cancer. 

A week later at Dennis's farewell people were thanking my parents for rising such a good man and regaling stories of the past of what good natured soul he was. 

The reason these dates are so forever etched in our memory is because they are what I refer to as reshaping moments. When you know after that day life will never be the same again. There is exasperation that I use when I speak about my family and our challenges that we had over the last couple of years. 

We are broken in spots but we will never shatter.

 Jeanne Marie Donnelly, is a 40 years old woman with Cerebral Palsy since birth. She attended Henry Viscardi School in Albertson, NY, a school that educates people with disabilities. She transferred to a public high school and graduated Long Beach High School with honors. Jeanne obtained her BA in Social Science from Hofstra University in 2003. She went on to receive MSW degree at Adelphi University 2005. Her goals are to help people understand that  people of every color and creed, able bodied and those with disabilities have the ability to empower themselves in many different and wonderful ways.  She has earned a BA in Social Science at, Hofstra University and a MSW degree at Adelphi University.

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