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South Boston Online
  Thursday, March 26, 2015
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Fundraiser for Jack Leary's Nephew
By Rick Winterson

     The extended families around here are sometimes hard to keep track of, but here goes.  Jack Leary, well known for his work at South Boston’s Courthouse, is the youngest of eight Leary children.  His sister Dolores is married to Ed Duffy.  The senior Duffys live in Wrentham.

Dolores and Ed’s son and daughter-in-law are Eddie and Joanne Duffy.  They live in Tewksbury, and have a seven-year-old son, Zachary (“Zack”).  This makes young Zack the grand-nephew of Jack Leary.  Zack is extremely sick, but there is hope for him – lots of it.

     When Zack was five, just before entering kindergarten, he came down with an allergic disease known as “Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis”.  His poor young body rebelled.  Almost all of his skin blistered away, as if he had suffered severe burns.  The chronic shocks to his system led to heart problems.  Zack’s eyes became highly sensitive to light.  The Duffys spent a year keeping their home completely dark in attempt to salvage a little of his sight.

     Help poured in.  The Shriners Hospital treated Zack in their world-famous burn clinic.  Despite his crippling illness, Zack took up his schooling, assisted by a Braille teacher from the Perkins Institute.  Both Eddie and Joanne Duffy quit their jobs to stay home and care for their son 24/7, around the clock.  And Zack’s courage and grit never wavered.

     Zack’s grandparents, the senior Duffys, went to work in Wrentham.  Over the past few years, they have raised tens of thousands of dollars to help defray the expenses of Zack’s 30 surgeries and 40 transfusions.  The rest of the eight Learys rolled up their sleeves and with Jack Leary coordinating their efforts, have raised substantial sums of money on their own.

     Jack Leary’s contributions to South Boston are well known, particularly in grappling with our neighborhood’s substance abuse problems.  He is living proof of the old saying, “If you want something done, call on a man who is already busy.”

     No one knows how Eddie and Joanne have done it, but something is working – their saintly sacrifices have partly restored Zack’s health.  He’s a normal boy, full of energy, who was all smiles when they celebrated last Christmas.  As incredible as it sounds, Zack plays soccer in a league for the blind that uses a ball with noisemakers implanted on it.

     Now, there is more good news.  A doctor in Florida has developed an experimental technique that may restore Zack’s vision.  This technique is based on stem cell technology, and is still in the research phase, which means it’s not covered by insurance.

     On Friday, May 19, The West Roxbury Elks #10 will host an event to raise money for Zack’s sight-restoring procedure.   Tickets are $100.  Silent auction items would be appreciated.  There’ll be dinner, dancing, and a $5,000 drawing.  All proceeds will go directly towards Zack’s treatment.

     This is a chance to show West Roxbury what a “Southie time” is all about, so call Ann Connolly at (617)269-5252 for tickets or with auction items. 

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