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United Way funds continue to grow

MIT employee donations to the current United Way campaign will help up to 1.7 million people served by United Way agencies. However, some donations are targeted to a particular human-services area or even a specific fund, including some that aren't official United Way agenies. One of these is the "Aaron fund," which aids the son of an MIT employee injured in an accident almost exactly five years ago.

The fund is named for Aaron Donaghey, 22, who has been paralyzed from the chest down since the accident on Dec. 7, 1988. His father, Robert "Larry" Donaghey, is an electrician in the Department of Physical Plant. Larry Donaghey's co-workers have been among those who have made contributions over the last five years to help defray expenses associated with Aaron's treatment, equipment and renovations needed to the Donaghey home in Billerica to make it handicapped-accessible.

Since the accident, Aaron finished high school and is now enrolled at Northern Essex Community College, his father reported. "He's got a pretty good outlook," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, he's in good spirits."

Money collected in the past through events such as a benefit dance and an annual golf tournament in Methuen were used for the house renovations such as ramps and an elevator and also to customize a van to carry Aaron and his wheelchair. Friends continue to contribute toward ongoing expenses such as supplemental pay for a personal care attendant, who is paid a small sum with state money. About 25 people have contributed at least $1,000 to the fund this year, fund-raisers estimate.

The Donagheys hope to gather enough money to pay for equipping the van so Aaron can drive it himself, as well as for continuing expenses, Larry Donaghey said. As for the money that's come in so far, "it's a godsend," he said.

As of December 3, MIT's United Way campaign has raised $203,692 from 1,137 contributions, bringing the Institute to 64 percent of its 1993 goal of $320,000. Twenty-one donors are Leadership Givers, meaning they contributed at least $1,000.

The drive, which began on October 26, has been extended until December 17, but donations will still be accepted until the end of the year. "For departments that got a late start, this will give them a chance to catch up. I'm hoping we'll reach our goal once the last-minute pledges come in," said Elizabeth Mulcahy, MIT's employee campaign manager. "I'm optimistic that we will."

A version of this article appeared in the December 8, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 17).

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