gratitude-a-thon day 2010: a gift idea: give

In the case that you are looking for a gift that honors someone who is my idea of a badass hero, then consider a gofundme donation to Rich “Ratt” Kennedy. 

Ratt, as he’s affectionately known (and by the way, I have no idea why he was nicknamed after a rodent), was my physical therapist at 27 when my back was so wrecked I couldn’t work, drive or sit for more than 10 minutes without wanting to die.  No more running, or high impact anything. I was hospitalized and did a tour of more Boston doctors than I even knew existed. It was a horribly hard time in my life and I wondered if I’d ever be a regular person again.


Rich “Ratt” Kennedy.


That’s when I met Ratt at Kennedy Brothers Physical Therapy . Three times a week, this powerhouse of positivity and skill got my body to do things it didn’t want to, in an effort to strengthen my core enough to kick my back’s sorry behind and get my sciatic pain to take up residence in someone else’s ass. It wasn’t easy (and I’m mostly talking about for Ratt)! I whined. I cried. I felt sorry for myself. But Ratt was having none of it. This guy was one of the most uplifting people I’d ever met and having recently lost his dad to Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), my chronic disc problem looked like a hangnail. Not that Ratt didn’t listen to me, he did. And he always encouraged me. But he wasn’t falling for my sad saga of pain or all I’d had to give up because of my faulty disc. He was all about getting me to be able to do what I could.


Ratt with the amazing Dr. Bob Brown, whose  ALS Research Group at UMass Medical Center is the recipient of The Angel Fund’s donations.


I worked with Ratt for about three years straight and then on and off when I would have an episode of back pain, for about 12 more years. We had a great relationship and got to know each other really well. He was from a family of nine and had a work ethic like you can’t even believe. He had five kids he lived for and a wife he adored. He ran the Boston Marathon every year, had a house in New Hampshire that he loved, and was good to his mom and close to his brothers and sisters. I was always blown away by his seemingly flawless character, but he also had a fun streak that made working with him something I liked, instead of hated, and with all the pain involved it would have been easy to hate him.

The second time I worked with him long term, he’d just lost his 29-year-old brother to ALS.  This shook me. I tried not to whine to him anymore.

That was when Ratt began The Angel Fund, an organization to raise money to find a cure for ALS. He poured himself into it, and my family and I had lots of fun for many years at the Squirrel Run, a fundraiser that honored his brother.

Over the years, he has earned 10 million dollars for this fund. Yeah, 10. Million. Dollars.


Ratt and family.


My back got better as I got older (your discs wear down, so you don’t have as much pain, and I found practitioners to help me stay stable back there). I didn’t see Ratt anymore and when I needed a PT, I found someone closer to my house.

We lost touch.

And then the summer before last, I found out on Facebook that the guy who’d saved my spine, (and my attitude) had ALS himself. I felt stung by a hive of bees, that kind of pain you get when something so vastly unfair happens in the world you don’t know what to do with it.

I am 58 years old and Ratt is by far, without a question, one of the best, most principled and generous people I have met. If I meet another person who stands up to this guy’s character, I’ll be really lucky. I don’t know if he realizes the impact he had on my life (on so many patient’s lives), but he is someone I am always grateful for.

He can no longer work at the job he’s so good at.

His treatment and care is crazy expensive.

This guy will fight until he can’t fight anymore.

So, if you have someone on your list that already has everything, please consider making a donation in their name. If you just want to help a man who has given to others his whole life, please make a donation. No donation is too big, or too small. Every single bit will help someone who needs it and deserves it.




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