More than 400 gather to support couple who has given so much to the community
By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
BOOTHWYN — The heart of Unionville beat as one for a few hours Friday night as more than 400 people gathered to help a community family that for so many years has been first in line when someone needed a school Book Fair managed or a rec sports league overseen.
The community came together to help a local couple — fixtures in the lives so many Unionville families — facing a sudden and shocking health crisis, to raise money to help them pay for medical costs and to let them know how much their good works in the community are valued.
When Caren Ladd, a mainstay in the Hillendale School community, who most recently served as president of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization was blindsided by a stroke this summer, the shock around the Unionville area was palpable. In addition to Caren’s constant, selfless involvement in the community, her husband Brian, is a key pillar of the Unionville Recreation Association, someone who has literally put in thousands of hours of time and effort for the community.
The 43-year-old mother of three, with kids ranging from 15 to 7 — Brian Jr. (15), Brooke (11) and Conor (7), was seemingly completely healthy when stricken during a visit to the shore. After multiple surgeries and a month in intensive care, she endured a long stay at Bryn Mawr Rehab, only recently returning home. A long recovery period still is in front of her.
It didn’t take long after Caren’s stroke for the community to reach out to Ladd family — but even with health insurance, the biggest hurdle would be paying for additional expenses during Caren’s rehab and long recovery process.
Within weeks — friends, neighbors and those who know how much the Ladds have given to the Unionville community put together a plan — a benefit dinner/auction at the Ballrooms at Boothwyn. The event was spearheaded by Jill Collins, Andrea Nolan and Chris DiPaolo, who managed to put together an exception event.
The outpouring of support was rapid: the event, with little or no publicity, sold out rapidly — and may have been able to sell half again as many tickets. Dozens and dozens of items were donated for auction — ranging from NFL tickets, local art work to baskets of goodies, all with the hope helping the Ladd family.
The attendees ranged from those who have worked day to day with the Ladds on school or URA projects, to Unionville Schools Superintendent Sharon Parker and school board member Jeff Hellrung, just to local parents who wanted to offer their appreciation for the Ladds’ efforts on behalf of their children. The local party band Crooked Rose donated their services, and sold shirts and CDs to help raise additional money.
Although Caren wasn’t feeling well enough to attend, Brian went out of his way to thank everyone — especially the event organizers.
Taking a page from Hillary Clinton’s “It takes a Village” although admitting it might be one of the very few things he had in agreement with her, Brian Ladd talked a bit Friday night how the Unionville community is a village of caring people.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of this village,” he said. He went on to say when help was needed in the immediate aftermath of his wife’s stroke, people were always there to help, whether it be helping with cooking or babysitting, as Brian ran to the hospital to be with his wife.
“This is a village I’m very proud to be a member of,” he said.
He continued to express gratitude on behalf of Caren and the family — his voice breaking with emotion at times. He made it clear that his wife’s goal is not just to get better, but to return to her volunteer works — and he noted how difficult it was for him recently to attend Hillendale’s Book Fair — and event his wife has organized for a number of years.