Health & Wellness

Local Teacher's Family Foundation Provides Lifeline to People Living with ALS


SPARTA, NJ – A Sparta High School teacher and her family has helped a woman in Lake Stockholm to have a way to safely get in and out of her home.  Shannon Hobby-Psensky, known as HP to her students, together with her family have created a foundation to honor their mother and grandmother who died of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease called The Ellie Reynolds ALS Foundation.  The foundation raises funds to help the lives of other ALS patients.

On a bright Saturday morning in June, four volunteers worked to install a ramp system on the home of Ruth and Thomas Lloyd.  At no cost to the Lloyd’s the ramps were installed by volunteers

  • Shawn Potillo, the foundation’s Vice President,
  • Patti Stevens, Ellie’s Daughter,
  • Ed Peters, Peters Construction of Stanhope
  • Kacie Gahr, President of the foundation

“We do this in memory of my grandmother, at her request,” Gahr said.  

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After bringing Ellie to a fundraising walk, “she looked around and said you need to help them,” Gahr said.  “This is where we thought we could help them.”

They created the foundation, raising funds with golf outings and motorcycle rides.

They recently held Ellie’s Run for Independence  on July 16 at Horseshoe Lake in Succasunna.  There will be a golf outing at Crystal Springs on September 22.  Ellie’s Ride motorcycle run is scheduled for October 7 leaving from Hot Rods coordinated with the Lake Hopatcong Elks Lodge

The organization has supplied wheel chairs, ramps, electric lift chairs, widened doorways and renovated bathrooms for people living with ALS. The ramp systems can be reused, reconfigured for the needs of the different clients.  

Gahr spoke of another recent project they had recently completed.  She said, “Nate had been stuck in his house for six months” before they installed his ramp system, that “greatly helped the quality of his life.” 

ALS is a particularly insidious disease as the patient’s “mind still works but they are imprisoned in their body,” that no longer works the way they want it to, Gahr explained.

The foundation has done work in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.  They get referrals from social workers at area hospitals including Robert Wood Johnson, as well as New York and Philadelphia ALS chapters. 

“We are always looking for volunteers and donations,” Gahr said.

“ALS is considered an orphan disease which means there is not a lot of help out there for families,” Hobby Psensky said.

The messages Thomas Lloyd wanted to share was to “let everyone know about the great work they do.”

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