As Tommy Poulin undergoes treatment for osteosarcoma,
he has an army of supporters behind him.
CREDIT: PHOTO BY LISA REDA
Last month, a local family received tragic news that has given way to an outpouring of community support. In April, Pawling High School senior Tommy Poulin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma while undergoing treatment for a fractured femur. In the wake of this revelation, the community has rallied around Tommy and his family. Now there is a massive fundraising effort underway, with support coming from the Pawling community and beyond. As Tommy begins treatment, hundreds of people have come forward to help support his recovery. They are known as Tommy’s Army.
On April 2, Tommy Poulin was working with friends to clear trees with the use of a four-wheeler ATV. After hitting a patch of uneven ground, Tommy leapt from the vehicle, breaking his femur in the process. He was rushed to Sharon Hospital in Sharon, CT for x-rays, and then taken by helicopter to The Children’s Trauma Center in Hartford. Ultimately, x-rays of the breakage revealed osteosarcoma, or cancer of the bone, in his right thigh. Following the diagnosis, Tommy and his family soon began treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Vigil: A vigil in support of Tommy Poulin was held on the Village Green.
In the wake of such devastating news, the Poulin family’s friends were immediately by their side. One of Tommy’s best friends, Sean Holback, was with him at the time of the accident, and along with his family accompanied him to the hospital that day. Tommy’s mother, Jeanine, credits the entire Holback family with helping them through the difficult ordeal. “The Holbacks were phenomenal. Ian, Kim, Sean, and Alyssa were with us every step of the way,” she says. “They were our support system from the very beginning.”
Once news of Tommy’s illness broke, the Poulins’ friends and family were quick to rally around. “Everyone in our families, all our friends, everyone came together,” explains Jeanine. “My husband’s sister Roxanne, my sister Karyne, Robert Trump and his entire family, including Ann Marie, Flynn, and Genna, the Holbacks, Peter Simone, Jimmy and Gina Madden, and Erin Corbi and Rachel Henry, who we were able to count on taking care of our dog while we were away at the hospitals. Then there are the people who have been making T-shirts, bracelets, having bake sales, coordinating events, visiting me at home, bringing me goodies or just checking in with me. They have been with me almost every day. To Candice Alexandre, Nikki Macchia, Joe and Dawn Petruso, Pat and Nicolette Pedoto, Keith and Julie Watkins, I love you all. There are just too many people to thank.”
As word spread throughout the community, Tommy’s Army began to grow. Fundraising efforts began with the creation of a Go Fund Me campaign online, and volunteers known as the Lollipop Kids set up a table selling candy in the village. T-shirts and bracelets bearing the slogans “Tommy Poulin Fight Club” and “#TCanStrong” are being sold by local merchants. This season, players on the Pawling High School baseball and softball teams will all wear Tommy’s #7 to show their solidarity. On Monday, April 22, a vigil was held on the Village Green, where more than fifty of Tommy’s friends and community members came out to show their support. To date, the Go Fund Me Campaign has raised more than $69,000 to help with medical bills and expenses.
Cooks: The community gathered for a BBQ fundraiser at
McGrath’s Tavern that raised more than $25,000.
When the Poulins were returning from the first day of treatment on April 16, Tommy’s friends organized a caravan of more than 60 trucks to escort him up Interstate 684 toward home. “Those kids waited all day long,” says Jeanine Poulin. The presence of his friends did not end there, and Tommy’s peers have become a regular staple at the Poulin house. “The kids have been unbelievable,” his mother explains. “We must thank Tommy’s incredibly devoted friends who not only made countless trips to visit him in both Hartford and Memorial Sloan Kettering hospitals, but still regularly visit him at home to either play X-Box, share a meal, take him for a ride, detail his truck, or just sit with him and hang out. Their friendship has without a doubt kept Tommy’s spirits in check and means the world to him and us. Among the ‘regular’ visitors, we want to thank Sean Holback, Charlie Jelinek, Carmine Pedoto, Aiden Alexandre, Christiano Ciatto, Matt, Nick, and Michael Cantisani, Stan Vishinski, as well as cousins Nicholas Colombo and Andrew Aabel. Of course there are so many other visitors. Please forgive us; there are too many to mention, but we know who you are and appreciate you all.”
On Saturday, April 27, the community gathered at McGrath’s Tavern for a BBQ fundraiser. The event saw a tremendous showing, and raised more than $25,000. Countless people, businesses, and community organizations donated items for a raffle, as well as food and manpower to make the day a success. “Every single person who did anything, big or small, we want you to know that we appreciate everything,” says Jeanine Poulin. “We want to thank the McGrath family, everyone who donated their time to cook, and our wonderful neighbors Tom and Sandy Ferraiola who donated the food for the event.”
Fundraising efforts will continue this month, as Sauro’s Town Square Pizza Cafe in Patterson has named the Tommy Poulin Cancer Fight as their charity of the month, and will donate a portion of every pizza purchase to help Tommy’s recovery effort. On Sunday, May 19, the Pawling Interact Club will he holding a carwash in duel locations at Dutchess Auto and Downey Auto Body to continue the fundraising effort.
As Tommy continues his fight against cancer, the Poulin family knows they have an army walking behind them. “We can’t thank everyone enough,” says Jeanine Poulin. “We never in a million years would have expected any of this. There have been people coming out of the woodwork, with letters, money, homemade hot food, herbal teas, gift cards, healing masses from here to France, even holy water or just beautiful words of encouragement. It is just impossible to thank everyone by name, so we will say: Thank you everyone!”