An Adventurer Helped by the Darren FUNd
Michelle Gallien had a dream: add a few more states to her growing list of visited places and get to one of the national parks. This past summer, with help from Pathlight’s Darren FUNd, Michelle notched two more states and got to hike at Grand Teton National Park with a group of fellow adventurers with disabilities.
Michelle, who is served in Pathlight’s Adult Family Care (AFC) program is no amateur when it comes to traveling. She has been to more than 15 countries (including China, Costa Rica and Italy) and 17 states (including Alaska and Hawaii).
About her trip to Grand Teton, in Montana and North Dakota, she says, “I had never been on a trip that went to a national park before. We went to the mineral baths, a lot of hiking trails and stuff and those big mountains…Grand Teton. We saw waterfalls. Wild horses…tons of them. I’d never seen wild horses in the wild. I made some friends.” With regret Michelle adds, “But we didn’t see a bear.”
The Darren FUNd enables individuals from Pathlight’s Family-Based Living programs the opportunity to have fun and memorable experiences they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Grants to other recipients this past year have paid for music lessons, vacations, trips to ball games and concerts, to name just a few. Doreen, Michelle’s mother and fellow travel enthusiast, filled out the Darren FUNd application for Michelle and is very grateful for the financial assistance they received.
When asked why she loves to travel so much, Michelle explains: “I can see all different places in the world. [I want to do more trips] to get wiser.”
It was Darren’s never-ending smile and happiness that filled the hearts of Anne Marie and John with joy when they welcomed him into their family. That joy led them to establish the Darren FUNd in 2007 at Pathlight.
The FUNd’s purpose is to afford others served by Pathlight's Shared Living program opportunities that are fun and bring them joy.
Over the years, the FUNd has fulfilled this intention in a variety of ways, including vacations trips to Disney World, Arizona, and New Hampshire, therapeutic horseback riding lessons, classes at the Jewish Community Center, membership at the local YMCA, a week at Camp Horizon, music lessons, and the purchase of iPads.
Since Darren’s death in 2014 from Early Onset Alzheimer’s, the FUNd has taken on a new meaning.
Sadly, it is now a tribute to his life, and a way to honor his spirit.
Please join us in remembering and honoring Darren’s memory and ensuring that others will receive the gift of happiness and fun.