KENILWORTH, NJ — The friends of a former Livingston Volunteer Firefighter, who is also a retired Union County Prosecutor’s Office (UCPO) Detective as well as a veteran of the Hudson and Morris County Prosecutor’s Offices, are hosting a fundraiser on April 7 to help offset the expenses brought on by the advanced stage of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) that he tested positively for shortly after his retirement.
Thirty-one years ago, Marty Lynch took an oath to serve and protect the community by becoming a police officer. But no line of fire or even a fire itself, could prepare him for the battle of his life: his battle versus ALS. On April 7 at the Kenilworth VFW Hall, Friends of Marty Lynch, Inc., a tax exempt 501(c) 3 started by some of his UCPO colleagues, will host a “Tricky Tray” benefit for Lynch and his family to help offset the cost of medication, equipment and other expenses that are not covered by his insurance.
The event, to take place from 6-10 p.m., will feature food, beer, DJ entertainment, and a tricky tray. The Tricky Tray will feature such items as a 50-inch HDTV with ROKU, a Prada Handbag, a NJ Devils Package and more.
“Even in the worst circumstances, Marty’s always been a positive guy—never a negative thought or action,” said UCPO Detective Oliver Kalebota. “That’s the amazing thing. In the condition that he’s in, it appears that his spirits are so positive and you can’t believe that he’s actually going through what he’s going through and can still maintain a smile and laugh at jokes.”
When Lynch retired in 2011 and moved to Arizona with his family, he slowly became paralyzed. At first, it was muscle spasms in his feet and calves. His prior condition of diabetes was thought to be the cause, but as his conditioned worsened, Lynch went from walking, to a cane, to a walker, to a wheelchair, to a motorized scooter and now a motorized wheelchair.
More than four years later, Lynch and his wife, Michele, traveled the country in hopes of finding the answer they so desperately wanted. However, doctors were dumbfounded and Lynch’s body continued to deteriorate. In December of 2014, Lynch went to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, where a doctor decided to give him a second round of genetic testing.
Six months later, Lynch was diagnosed with a rare form of ALS that only effects one in 10-million people. According to the Friends of Marty Lynch, the reason his disease wasn’t found sooner was because Lynch has a rare hereditary type called FUS.
On July 12, 2015, Lynch stopped breathing and now uses a bi-pap machine in order to keep his lungs open. Although the Lynch’s have a home in Arizona, they will never be able to return, as it too risky for Lynch to travel and Michele is his sole provider. Lynch now needs 24-hour, around-the-clock care and because of this, his wife is unable to return to work. Lynch is now completely wheelchair-bound and uses a Hoyer lift to get into his wheelchair.
“When we saw the state he was in last October, it was shocking to a lot of us,” said Sgt. Vincent Gagliardi of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Co-founder of the Friends of Marty Lynch, LLC. “Me and another detective met with him for breakfast in mid-December and he had deteriorated severely since October and that’s when we knew we had to put this fundraiser into effect.”
This is not the first time that the Lynch family has been the victim of this deadly disease. Lynch’s dad, Martin (Earl) Lynch, Sr., was diagnosed with ALS in 1984 and passed in 1993. Knowing what challenges that lie ahead for him, Kalebota said Lynch is constantly in high spirits and looking forward to the event more than almost anything else.
Since the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) cannot host its own fundraisers due to a rule with the Attorney General’s Office, Gagliardi and four or five of their friends put together the Friends of Marty Lynch Benefit Fund knowing how many lives Lynch has touched and that a fundraiser in his honor would bring hundreds of people together.
“There isn’t anyone in his 25+ years of law enforcement in any agency that he’s ever encountered that could say anything negative,” Oliver. “Everybody that talks about Marty always has something positive to say because he’s always been such a god guy.”
Also a former president of the New Jersey Narcotics Enforcement Office Association, a statewide agency, Lynch has many friends in the New Jersey area. In fact, Gagliardi said he expects hundreds of current and retired law-enforcement officers from across the state.
“He’s touched a lot of people’s lives,” said. “His drive right now is this event. This event means everything to him. He wakes up every day and just can’t wait for Thursday.”
Tickets at this time may be purchased at the door in cash, or by check made payable to “Friends of Marty Lynch;” tickets are $25 per person. To make a donation or find out more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.