Folk singalong benefits ALS fight

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Powell resident and former Maple Grove United Methodist Church minister Bill Croy was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2010.

Bill Croy can still whisper, but it wears him out.

He continues to eat whatever he wants (“Yea, seafood!”), but very slowly. Even whispered conversation is impossible at mealtimes. Again he tires easily. He spends 18 to 22 hours a day hooked to a machine that aids his breathing.

A hospice component was added to the team of people caring for him in late summer. He and his wife, Dorothy, had to move from their beloved home in Clintonville to one in Powell that affords handicapped accessibility.

“We would have loved to have stayed in Clintonville,” he wrote in an email.

The Rev. William E. Croy, formerly the minister at Maple Grove United Methodist Church, is in the advanced stages of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also called Lou Gehrig’s disease. Croy, 65, was diagnosed Aug. 13, 2010.

The disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movements, and eventually, even involuntary ones.

“My spirit and faith remain intact, partially because of the continued overwhelming support of our family and friends, the Central and Southern Ohio ALS Chapter staff and support group, the OhioHealth ALS Clinic and Hospice program, and especially the ministry members and staff of Maple Grove UMC,” Croy wrote last week, after making what was for him the arduous journey to Lima to visit his mother, who was hospitalized from a fall.

He types sometimes with his right hand and sometimes using equipment that translates a

glance from his eyes into a keystroke.

Next week, he will help raise money to find a cure for the disease that has left him confined to a power wheelchair.

Clintonville residents Bill Cohen and Carl Yaffey, who recently formed the Folk Ramblers duo, will lead a sing-along from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 22, in the fellowship hall at Maple Grove United Methodist Church, 7 W. Henderson Road.

The event, which will feature the local folk scene veterans leading We Shall Overcome, among other songs, is a fundraiser for the Bill’s Backers team in the annual Walk to Defeat ALS.

The suggested donation is $10, according to Cohen.

Bill’s Backers has raised more than $67,000 in the last two walks. This year’s event is scheduled for Sept. 21 at Columbus Commons. Croy plans to attend.

“When Bill (Cohen) and I first talked we weren’t sure I would be able to because of the possibility of further deterioration,” Croy wrote. “However, we are able still to get out and are planning on being there, although I won’t speak to many folks. Oh, and won’t be singing either!”

Croy has a team of caregivers.

“Weekly a nurse, massage therapist and aide come to our home and help us with the physical realities of the progression of the disease. Periodically, a chaplain and social worker also stop in for a visit,” he wrote.

“While talking is almost impossible now because of the continued deterioration of the supporting muscles, I still can whisper for a little while, but tire quickly. I’m fortunate to still be able to eat anything I want (yea, seafood!) but more slowly and without conversation. Again, I tire fairly quickly and put the trilogy machine on when I can’t continue. Some define it as a non-invasive respiratory machine. It primarily rests all the muscles used to breathe and provides me a great deal of comfort.”

Croy continues to write sermons and share comments on his blog, “Giving Wings to Thoughts.”

“Whenever I post something new on the blog, I post a note on Maple Grove UMC’s and my personal Facebook pages and send emails to those who don’t do Facebook,” he wrote.

Read Croy’s blog online at