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Greenfield

Ultimate optimist

CROTCHED MOUNTAIN: Man with terminal illness writes book about appreciation

  • Ron Nepomuceno reviews a picture he just framed with the help of recreational specialist, Sarah Graham, outside the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. Nepomuceno and Graham work together year round to take pictures around the center's campus as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.

    Ron Nepomuceno reviews a picture he just framed with the help of recreational specialist, Sarah Graham, outside the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. Nepomuceno and Graham work together year round to take pictures around the center's campus as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.

  • Ron Nepomuceno with his recreational therapist, Sarah Graham, a certified recreation specialist, taking pictures outside around the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center campus a few weeks ago. The two meet weekly, year round, to take pictures as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.

    Ron Nepomuceno with his recreational therapist, Sarah Graham, a certified recreation specialist, taking pictures outside around the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center campus a few weeks ago. The two meet weekly, year round, to take pictures as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.

  • Taken in early October on the accessible trails on Crotched Mountain, Nepomuceno set up this shot and took the picture with the help of a volunteer.

    Taken in early October on the accessible trails on Crotched Mountain, Nepomuceno set up this shot and took the picture with the help of a volunteer.

  • A photo taken by Nepomuceno at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center exhibiting his love of nature.

    A photo taken by Nepomuceno at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center exhibiting his love of nature.

  • Photos taken by Nepomuceno this fall outside on the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's campus in Greenfield.

    Photos taken by Nepomuceno this fall outside on the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's campus in Greenfield.

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno wrote an inspirational book, and continues to be one of the most up-beat and optimist people at the Mountain.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno wrote an inspirational book, and continues to be one of the most up-beat and optimist people at the Mountain.

  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno and his volunteer and book editor, Sarah Ellis, pose during Nepomuceno's interview, Oct. 16, at the Mountain.

    Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno and his volunteer and book editor, Sarah Ellis, pose during Nepomuceno's interview, Oct. 16, at the Mountain.

  • Ron Nepomuceno reviews a picture he just framed with the help of recreational specialist, Sarah Graham, outside the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield. Nepomuceno and Graham work together year round to take pictures around the center's campus as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.
  • Ron Nepomuceno with his recreational therapist, Sarah Graham, a certified recreation specialist, taking pictures outside around the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center campus a few weeks ago. The two meet weekly, year round, to take pictures as part of Nepomuceno's recreational therapy program.
  • Taken in early October on the accessible trails on Crotched Mountain, Nepomuceno set up this shot and took the picture with the help of a volunteer.
  • A photo taken by Nepomuceno at the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center exhibiting his love of nature.
  • Photos taken by Nepomuceno this fall outside on the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center's campus in Greenfield.
  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno wrote an inspirational book, and continues to be one of the most up-beat and optimist people at the Mountain.
  • Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center client Ron Nepomuceno and his volunteer and book editor, Sarah Ellis, pose during Nepomuceno's interview, Oct. 16, at the Mountain.

He’s a self-made artist described as brimming with creativity and passionate about nature. He’s also facing a terminal illness and he cannot move from the neck down.

Yet Ron Nepomuceno, a Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center resident is seen by those around him as the ultimate optimist, and he recently wrote a book about finding passion and taking control of one’s life.

Crotched Mountain volunteer and editor for Nepomuceno’s book, Sarah Ellis of Lyndeborough, said “Artist Not Dead” is an inspirational book about Nepomuceno’s life.

“The idea came to him when he was in the ICU unit at Dartmouth Hospital,” Ellis said in an interview. “He was visited by students and they asked him, ‘why are you so happy when you have a terminal illness?’ He wrote it in hopes that it can give hope to others suffering.”

According to Liz LaRose, director of marketing and communications for Crotched Mountain, Nepomuceno was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in 2007 when he was living in Wolfeboro and working as a financial manager. Nepomuceno continued to live at his home in Wolfeboro until March of 2010 when he was transferred to a local hospital, and then later that month to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center when he needed to begin using a ventilator. He stayed at Dartmouth for a year until he was admitted to Crotched Mountain in February of 2011 as their first client to use a ventilator on the campus.

LaRose said his upbeat outlook and dedication to photography, writing, art and nature continues to impact the people at Crotched Mountain.

“He gets them to think about who they are and the joy they can bring into their lives and other people’s lives,” LaRose said. “He always has a smile on his face and he’s always looking forward to the future. I think the book provides a window into the life of someone with a disease like ALS. And not only does it provide a window, but it also can provide people hope and understanding if they bring love and optimism into their life.”

“With Nepomuceno’s long list of accomplishments since being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, it can make an able-bodied person wonder why they are not doing more in life,” she said.

Even with a terminal illness, Nepomuceno sees the good in life. He said everything in nature inspires him.

“Life is beautiful. Nature communicates through me, and it comes out clearly in my book,” Nepomuceno said in an interview Wednesday.

Occupational therapist and technology lead at Crotched Mountain, David Kontak, said that during Nepomuceno’s time at Crotched so far, he has taught cooking classes, hiked on the trails, did gardening and photography with other clients, and overall has stayed very active.

“It’s not just being alive, it’s having a life,” Kontak said.

As a naturally creative person, Nepomuceno said art is a big motivator in his life. He sets up photos during his hikes on the adaptive trails at Crotched, writes poetry about nature and people, helps grow vegetables and flowers, paints and even writes lyrics for music. But he also has a love for people.

“People are my inspiration. I talk a lot about how other people have influenced me. We are all the same,” Nepomuceno said.

In his book, Nepomuceno addresses several life lessons people should take away from reading his book. A few of the lessons include— take possession of your life, just do it, make contact, liberate your legacy in life and remember the ones you love.

“Love is everything,” Nepomuceno added.

An e-edition of the book is currently available online for $19.95, and this version has more to offer than a regular paper copy might. While reading the book, almost every other sentence offers the reader a link. This link could connect someone to a related picture for a thought in the book, a song he mentions, a website further explaining a book theme or even a video. These links function as a technology-driven form of illustration and interaction for the reader. Ellis said she embedded the story’s links to illuminate concepts and add dimension to the book. Until Ellis and Nepomuceno can find a publisher, the book will be available for sale online at www.artistnotdead.com.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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