WAYNE, NJ – Lionshead Lake is one of Wayne’s treasures but for a time, it fell into disrepair. The lake, without treatment became unswimmable and the beach became overgrown. One man was instrumental in re-organizing the residents around the lake, leading the charge to clean it up and make the lake a treasure once again.
For the past nine years, Steve Wesolowski has worked tirelessly to lead the restoration of Lionshead Lake. The only thing that derailed his efforts was a diagnosis of ALS, which is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. There is no known cure.
Now the residents around Lionshead are looking to save the man who helped to save their lake.
Karin Alsdorf and Paulette Brauch, have set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to renovate Wesolowski's home to make it more accessible for him and his aging mother. They are calling on all of Wayne residents to help.
“We decided to create a GoFundMe account where 100% of the proceeds will go to alleviating some of the financial stress, and to increase the quality of life for Stephen and his mother, Pat,” wrote Alsdorf. “They have already incurred expenses for medical devices, a chair and a ramp but are still in need of a bathroom renovation and a long list of adaptations to their home.”
When Wayne needed Wesoloski, he was there; sacrificing years to get Lionshead Lake back to what it had once been in his childhood. And now Wesolowski is counting on Wayne to help him. Click here to donate to this campaign
Steve Wesolowski grew up living near Lionshead but moved out to California as an adult. About ten years ago, his father passed away, and he came back home to help his aging mother.
When he returned, the lake was no longer the beautiful swimming lake that was the center of many fun activities of his childhood. This was unacceptable and Wesolowski took it upon himself to reorganize the residents and restore the lake.
Ellen Snyder, a childhood friend and neighbor of Wesolowski, began working with him early on.
“About ten years ago, the news came that the Town was going to close the lake,” she said. “We had to pay back-taxes and fix it up, or they would lock it up.”
“I got my company to give me a $500 sponsorship for the lake, and when I brought the money down, Steve and I started talking, and he convinced me to help him restore the lake,” Snyder said.
Together they began an aggressive sponsorship program, which provided the funds to pay off the back-taxes as well as to begin to restore the beach area and treat the water to make it swimmable again.
At the same time, Wesolowski began to form an official Board of Trustees for the lake which has now become the Lionshead Lake Property Owners Association.
“Steve had experience with running boards from his time working in non-profits in California,” Snyder explained. “So, we leaned on him to help us do it right this time.”
Snyder described Wesolowski as “relentless.”
“Our goal has been to open it up as a swimming lake, like we remembered as children,” she said. “And we promised each other we wouldn’t give up until we got it open.”
That goal was almost realized last summer, but the Coronavirus shut that down. Snyder hopes that this summer will be the first time the lake is officially opened for swimming and non-motorized boats.
Wesolowski used to help set up and break down just about every event at the lake over the last few years. These events include movies every Friday night in the summer, concerts on the beach, easter egg hunts, Halloween on the beach and more.
“Steve can’t do it any more because of his condition,” said Snyder sadly, “But now, because the Association is organized and set up so well, we have volunteers and people we can pay.”
Mayor Chris Vergano told TAPinto that he has personally donated to Wesolowski’s GoFundMe campaign.
“Steve is a great, great guy,” said the Mayor. “He was instrumental in restoring Lionshead Lake and making it such a great resource for the residents there. He is totally deserving of our support and I encourage everyone to help him now that he needs us.”
Snyder said that they are hoping to find a contractor who will donate labor costs to make Wesolowski’s house accessible for him, now that he is in a wheelchair.
“If a contractor would be willing to do that, we can offer them a sponsorship and kind of blast their name out in our community and on our Facebook page and before events,” she said.
If you are willing to donate to help Steve Wesolowski, you can find the GoFundMe page here.