COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho –The reality of an ALS diagnosis and the financial burden that accompanies it prompted one Coeur d’Alene couple to launch Matt’s Place Foundation, a program that lends a helping hand when their neighbors need it most.
Stan Litz lights up when talking about Rosy, his wife of 22 years.
“She was just always happy,” Stan said.
About a year and a-half-ago, ALS barged into Rosy’s life, quickly stripping her ability to teach and ultimately her ability to move.
“I would have to lift her hand up to help her feed herself because it wasn’t very long from the progression of the disease, she just couldn’t help herself, really,” Stan said.
ALS recently took Rosy on December 21, 2016 at the young age of 56.
“Stan’s just an amazing man and he stayed by her side the whole time,” Theresa Whitlock-Wild, co-owner of Matt’s Place Foundation said.
Theresa and her husband Matt met Stan and Rosy through the foundation. The Wild’s started the non-profit to help ALS patient and families maneuver the monumental struggles of the disease.
Help for Stan and Rosy came in the form of a wheelchair ramp. The ramp allowed Rosy to finally maneuver her wheelchair out of her home, often into her beloved backyard.
“In her arbor where her flowers are, where her plants are, and where her yard is, and where her garden is,” Stan said, “she loved to garden and was good at it too.”
“We were able to get the ramp in there,” Theresa said, “just the look on her face and the hug she gave us and just the thank you for letting me get into my backyard.”
The Wild’s know that is no small triumph because they are tackling ALS in their own home.
“I’m doing pretty good spirit-wise and emotionally and stuff. Physically I’ve declined. I’m basically in the chair full time now,” Matt, Theresa’s husband said.
Matt was diagnosed about two years ago. Following Matt’s diagnosis, Wild realized the impact of a terminal diagnosis is not the only monumental hurdle.
“Add on top of that, oh, we’re going to have to remodel our home and that could include a $10,000 ramp and a $30,000 remodel. If you have an older home, doorways need to be widened, and that gets so expensive and add on top of that, vehicles and wheelchairs and respiratory equipment and it’s overwhelming,” Theresa said.
“Yesterday I got to call a couple of families and tell them that we’re able to do grants for them and it’s pretty emotional to know you can help people,” Matt said.
Both of these families need financial help to create a wheelchair accessible bathroom. Soon, Matt’s Place will launch its biggest project yet.
“In the next month or so we’re going to break ground on the first Matt’s Place House, which will be fully adapted and basically a smart home that’s designed around ALS patients that families locally can move into and use,” Matt said.
Stan wants to support that goal. On Saturday, he will head to the 2nd Annual Matt’s Place Pub Crawl fundraiser in downtown Coeur d’Alene.
“I would encourage anybody else to do the same,” Stan said.
Stan would shout it from the rooftops if he could, to show support for the foundations, and now friends, who were there for him, and for his Rosy.
“If there’s anything I could do, I would love to,” Stan said.
Matt's Place had an impressive first year. In the last year, they raised more than $100,000 and were able to help 9 Inland Northwest families.
Their Pub Crawl is Saturday, March 4, 2017, starting at 4:00 p.m. The crawl includes about a dozen businesses with music, appetizers, drawings, and prizes. Tickets are $25.
For more information on pub crawl tickets or the foundation itself, head to www.mattsplacefoundation.com.