He was thanking all the police officers and firefighters that responded to the call to extract him from the car and transport him to the hospital.  We were just hit from behind at a stop light by a drunk driver at 8:30 in the evening on May 22, 2015.  He thanked the first responders who managed to get him, then his wheelchair out of new customized handicapped van we were headed home in.  He thanked the EMT who cut his favorite T-Shirt off.  He even thanked the one who unsuccessfully tried to start an IV.  He thanked me for pulling the blanket up on him in his newly torn shirt.  He would nod his head a little and sometimes inhale some of the sound out of the words 'thank you' as he said them, but he always did this because he was quite shy.  He always said THANK YOU. I share this personal and very painful memory because I want everyone to understand who Cullen Connolly was before that horrible night in May and who Cullen Connolly remains through the loving actions of this foundation. 

Cullen was born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  He lived the life of a happy little boy with a few difficulties. The real difficulties didn't start to become evident until he was ten and could no longer walk.  A reasonable person could understand a bitter and angry boy made that way as muscles deteriorated and his ability to move and take care of himself disappeared.  But that wasn't Cullen.  He took on every challenge presented him accepting the things he couldn't change, changing the things he could and stoically defying the doom and gloom that lurked over his shoulder.  (Boy's with DMD rarely live outside their mid-20's)  He had an unblinking faith in what he knew in his heart.  He always talked about what he would do when they found a cure and he could walk again.  He had an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  His best friend told me he would try to open Cullen's milk carton at lunch without him knowing it so he wouldn't thank him for doing it...Cullen always remembered to thank him anyway.  I remember his words from one night as I lifted him from his wheelchair to his bed. His mouth to my ear as I lifted, he said, "thanks dad, I love my life!"

As a family, we have grieved for a very long time.  Reaching a point where we can be thankful for anything that happened since that night in May of 2015 took a very long time.  We are thankful for a young man named Cullen Robert Connolly who taught us things we couldn't have learned on our own.  How to first, be thankful.  We offer up the efforts of the Cullen Connolly Memorial Fund to Cullen's memory.  Call it our way of thanking God for Cullen.

 

 

Cullen Connolly Memorial Fund Corporation. / Cullen's Claddagh is a 501(c)(3)  Our organization is formed as a tribute to Cullen Robert Connolly.  Gifts are deductible to the full extent allowable under IRS regulations.