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‘Pay it Forward’ campaign raises $3,000

  • Dennis Crandall of Jaffrey gives one of his two cats some love at his North Street apartment in October.<br/><br/>Archive photo

    Dennis Crandall of Jaffrey gives one of his two cats some love at his North Street apartment in October.

    Archive photo

  • Dennis Crandall, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, spends time with his two cats at his Jaffrey apartment on North Street in October.<br/><br/>Archive photo<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Dennis Crandall, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, spends time with his two cats at his Jaffrey apartment on North Street in October.

    Archive photo

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

  • Dennis Crandall of Jaffrey gives one of his two cats some love at his North Street apartment in October.<br/><br/>Archive photo
  • Dennis Crandall, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, spends time with his two cats at his Jaffrey apartment on North Street in October.<br/><br/>Archive photo<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

JAFFREY — A fundraiser begun this fall for Dennis Crandall of Jaffrey has raised more than $3,000, thanks to contributions from friends, former teachers and community members touched by Crandall’s story.

Crandall, who was born with a neuromuscular disability know as cerebral palsy and is now 37 years old, told the Ledger-Transcript last week that the support to help him pay down his medical debt from $3,500 to $500 over the past couple of months has been truly amazing.

“It warms my heart to realize that there are people willing to help a complete stranger. The feeling is indescribable,” he said. “To everyone [who] has provided support, I want to say thank you and I’m very humbled.”

Crandall’s former sixth-grade teacher at McClelland School in Rochester, N.Y., Sue Cushman, started the fundraiser in September, coining her online and mail-in donation campaign “A Chance to Pay it Forward.” Cushman and Crandall first met more than 20 years ago when Crandall was just 12 years old. Although the two lost contact for some time, they reunited in recent years via Facebook and have remained close ever since.

Cushman told the Ledger-Transcript in October that Crandall’s strength and positive attitude has been a constant inspiration to her and his friendship a blessing. That’s why when Cushman saw a post on Facebook that Crandall was selling his cherished possessions to pay for basic necessities she knew she had to help. She set out with a goal to raise $5,000 and since then has collected more than $3,000 in donations.

“So many of us are blessed with good health and don’t realize the struggles that others around us are facing. I knew that this was my time to pay it forward,” Cushman said in an interview in October.

Crandall said Sunday that the selfless donations of so many have eased his financial burden and given him new hope. Crandall is now planning for the future, with a goal to find his own way to “pay it forward.”

“It means that once my remaining debt is gone I can start saving money for a new wheelchair-accessible van so I can participate fully in the community,” he said. “I think if the opportunity presented itself, I would like to start to pay it forward by volunteering in the schools or at the library.”

In sharing his story, Crandall said he wants others to realize that no matter how impossible something seems, it is important to never give up hope. It is easy to focus on those common “what if” questions in life, but Crandall said instead of dwelling on the negatives he’s learned to concentrate on the positives.

“If there is something that you want bad enough, God will deliver in his time, not ours,” Crandall said.

Those interested in learning more about the fundraiser for Crandall can visit “A Chance to Pay it Forward” on Facebook and http://achancetopayitforward.weebly.com.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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