How a Raffle Becomes More than an Act of Kindness

May 19, 2017


by Len Lathrop

It all started inside a simple log cabin.  This act of kindness  –a raffle for a Hudson man in need—came to be because these people who heal others, who care about their community, wanted to make a difference.

Most everyone around town is familiar with Barclay Chiropractic.  It is a medical practice housed in a log cabin in south Hudson.  Officially, this is the office of Drs. Warren and Ryan Barclay of 5 Dracut Road.

While that is where this story took place last Thursday, it really began in the state of Washington in early February.  Everyone –unless you open your eyes in Hudson, drive to Boston for your work and turn around at the end of your day and simply go back to sleep– must know of the accident that changed the life of a Hudson family 180 degrees that day.

On Feb. 11, 2017, Joshua Keller was unexpectedly shot in the neck by an accidental weapon discharge while in Washington State.  Joshua is a specialist assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division.  Joshua’s twin brother; also an Army Ranger, was present at the time of the shooting.  The surgeons at the hospital credit Zachary with saving his twin brother’s life by administering CPR several times as well as taking numerous measures to help control the bleeding.

While the bullet and bone fragment are still lodged in his spine, Joshua is working on his recovery in a Boston Army hospital.

Last Thursday was the day that the raffle ended at the chiropractic office.  Staff members had worn their “Joshua Strong” shirts one day a week for the past month as patients and others had a chance to purchase tickets to win the basket and pillow from the team at the chiropractic group.

One knew that this was more than just a raffle when the first words that Dr. Warren uttered, on his way out from treating a patient, were, “what a celebration of community, the caring of everyone; people are amazing.”  He reveled in the fact that that more than $1,000 had been raised from the raffle to help the Keller family.  His face was aglow as he continued to explain that this astounding amount had come from $5 ticket sales.

Now the drawing was about to happen.  Matt Keller (Joshua’s dad for those who don’t know) arrived on the beautiful spring day and then everyone headed out onto the porch of the office.  Lue Kennedy had the jar with all the raffle tickets in it and Matt did the drawing.  It is in the picture, so you can see that only one blue ticket was drawn and the winner is Mary Fretwell from Nashua.

Dr. Barclay handed the envelope to Matt, who thanked everyone involved in the raffle, and then went on to share accolades about the community saying that from day one it has been a rotating door of people offering their help and support.

Matt continued the story about the journey, speaking from his heart.  Most of the staff, and even the senior Dr. Barclay, a military veteran himself, had tears in their eyes.  Matt spoke of Joshua and the stories of the people who visited to tell of their involvement with this 23 year old.

There were snippets of details about the time in Washington and their new family at St. Joseph’s Hospital where Joshua was in the ICU unit.  There was a visit from the FBI director from the Tacoma, Wash., Bureau who brought flowers and vodka.  Matt’s public service history involved many contracts with the FBI.  The nurse at St. Joe’s showed compassion as no flowers are allowed in ICU, but allowed them to be kept in water at the nurses’ station.  As for the vodka, Matt has pledged not to drink until Josh can drink, so the bottle is being stored away for a later day.

The dad explained that Josh is not on life support now.  He doesn’t need any assistance with breathing, can talk and is in good spirits.  He spoke of the amazing drive that Joshua is showing, saying at one point, “He is my rock.”  Keller explained that his son’s spinal column is intact; the injury caused a tourniquet type of reaction that has led to paralysis. He told about operating Josh’s different wheelchairs, where the first one could go 6 miles an hour, while the new one which Matt referred to as a ‘sports model’ can go 27 miles per hour, but sometimes drifts a little.  Well, practice on anything motorized is fun, so, after the administrative wing of the hospital cleared out and people had gone home, one parent would stand at one end to block the hallway off and the other at the far end for driver training.  When they heard someone in the colonel’s office they hustled back to Josh’s room.  The next day the colonial visited Joshua, think an O7 talking with an E4, explaining that trying is stressful, but keep it up.  Matt spoke of Joshua’s military challenge coin collection and a FBI friend stationed in Italy who had brought Joshua a coin from there.

When Matt finished telling the two Dr. Barclays and the staff about Josh and the obstacles he has crossed, almost two hours had passed.  In that time, Matt had inspired those around him as he spoke of being a Marine and the difficulty that  all of us face in going over the hurdles that are in front of us.

The picture of St. Kathryn’s Church is here at the end of this article, a reference to the Keller family’s unwavering faith in God.  Look over this father’s shoulder and you can see the cross shining in the sun.

Want to do your part to help and join the great Hudson community?  On June 2 at the VFW, the Hudson Police Relief Association, under the watchful eye of Selectman Angela Routsis, someone we can trust to cook, is sponsoring a spaghetti supper to help Joshua with his next adventure as he and his family plan for his return to Hudson.