A Niagara business is stepping up to help a former employee and family friend raise money to fund accessibility needs for her mother who has multiple sclerosis.
On “fry-day” Aug. 15 at MJ’s Own Munchies on Lakeshore Road from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. proceeds from all fry sales, including poutines and chilli cheese fries, will be donated to the Matthews family.
Money raised will provide Jeanne Matthews with the ongoing medical equipment, supplies she needs and home renovations like a wheelchair ramp to help her return home.
Starting the fundraiser for her mother, who was diagnosed in 2013, was the hardest part as her mother is a very selfless person, said Meka Matthews.
Jeanne was taken by ambulance to St. Catharines hospital on May 12 after an MS attack to be stabilized and went through numerous tests.
She was moved to Hotel Dieu Shaver hospital on May 27 and has been there ever since for rehabilitation because of the amount of pain she is in, said Matthews.
She cannot return home without accessibility accommodations made to her home and because the family didn’t not qualify for any funding for renovations, her mother was starting to consider alternatives like moving into a nursing home.
“I had asked so many times before and she was 1,000 per cent against it,” Matthews said.
“She always said, 'There’s people out there who need it more than I do, I’m not quite there yet where I need that type of support.' So it was a mixture of denial and then making sure that anyone else in a worse-off situation could be helped before her.”
Her mother finally agreed to a fundraiser in late July and Matthews said she started a GoFundMe page within 24 hours before she could change her mind.
Matthews reached out to Mary-Jo Werner last weekend to ask her to share the GoFundMe page in support of her mother.
Werner was happy to share the fundraising link to her business’ social media pages but wanted to do more.
“I said, 'Well, why don’t we do a fry-day' because I support Rankin Run and we do that once a year for them, and the Rankin Run didn’t happen this year. Let’s do a day for you guys and let’s do it soon so we can get the big crowds in,” Werner said.
The fundraiser will also include a raffle with three tickets for $5 and it will be a random draw for prizes donated by area businesses.
“We’ve all got to do our part. Everybody’s got to help out a little bit,” Werner said.
As of Aug. 5 at 10 a.m. Matthews has raised over $10,000 of the $20,000 goal within the first four days of the GoFundMe page going live online.
“I think I’ve watched her help so many people, either directly or indirectly, her whole life and I had thought, in a time where we need it most, why aren’t we able to then ask for help in return,” Matthews said.
“A lot of people think this about their moms, but she’s just like an angel on earth and I think she was meant to just spread love.”
“Many of our closest friends and family didn’t know because she never wanted to be a burden,” Matthews said, but she is happy and relieved that she can now share her mother’s story and reach out for support.
Her mom has taught her “about being a genuine, honest and hardworking person. She’s the best person I will probably ever meet and I’m just not ready to not come home to her every day.”
Matthews said she wasn't really prepared for people’s generosity, kind hearts and the overwhelming amount of support through donations and messages the family has received.
“It feels like what goes around comes around and my mom would have done the same thing if this was someone she knew,” she said. “I can’t think of a more deserving person.”
Those looking to donate can visit the GoFundMe page at gf.me/u/ykdj5s