January 24, 2006

Readers offer help for Eddie

By Paul Brooks
Times Herald-Record
pbrooks@th-record.com

Ellenville - Not here. People here will not leave wounded Marine sniper Eddie Ryan with no home to go to.

A story in yesterday's Times Herald-Record reported that Ellenville native Eddie Ryan's home needs $90,000 to $100,000 worth of work to accommodate him once he's discharged from the hospital.

Ryan took one bullet to the brain and a second to the jaw while fighting in Iraq in April. Doctors expected him to die. He's still going, battling through rehabilitation, learning to walk again, improving his halting speech, recapturing his life.

Doctors at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw told the Ryans he might be able to leave in six to eight weeks.

But his family's three-bedroom ranch outside Ellenville needs wider halls and a bigger bathroom. Eddie's dad, Chris, applied to ABC-TV's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" in hopes the show would do the work. It's a long shot at best. And the government is offering only $10,000 to help.

But the family is not alone. Offers of help poured in yesterday from individuals, groups and businesses alike. More are expected. "I'm a carpenter," Gerard O'Donnell of New Windsor said. "I want to see what I can do to help the family out."

Johann Huleatt of the Bruderhof, a religious group with a number of communities in the region, said his organization wanted to help the family. A&E Advertising and Web Design in Chester is donating a Web site that will be up and running soon. Lan Associates of Goshen offered its architectural and engineering services to the Ryans at no charge. "We want to donate to Eddie," said Colleen Murphy, office manager.

Others offered money. "I will make the first pledge. Five bucks," said Mickey Guarino in an e-mail.

The offers of help surprised Chris Ryan.

"That's beautiful. I can't believe it," he said. "This is Middle America. They work. They pay taxes and they are taking this burden on themselves to help a wounded warrior."

Here is why: "It could easily have been my family," said O'Donnell.

"I don't want anything in return. I just hope somebody would do the same thing if I were in the same situation."

This article appeared in The Times Herald-Record on 1/24/06

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