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Meet Michele Ruggieri

My "why" is my Uncle, Ray McLaughlin, who passed away April 22, 2016 and my cousin, Maureen McLaughlin, who passed away on April 13, 2010.

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Maureen was my Uncle Ray's daughter. My cousin Maureen's death got me started in supporting the American Heart Association and getting involved with the Go Red for Women movement. My cousin Maureen passed away suddenly on her way to the hospital. She had not been feeling well and had been complaining of chest pain. There wasn’t enough time to get to the hospital and it was devastating. It was discovered that she had a degenerative heart valve that had went undetected since birth. My cousin, Maureen, was a devoted mother to two daughters and also a devoted Hospice nurse who gave of herself so unselfishly. She still inspires me to this day. 

Maureen took such wonderful care of her father, my Uncle Ray, when she was still living. My uncle was also cared very well for by all of his children and his loving wife over the past 15 years since he suffered his first stroke in May 2001.

My uncle’s first stroke occurred while visiting Canada in 2001. He then suffered a major stroke about 6 weeks later while he was at home and he was unable to get out of bed. He was hospitalized at Mercy Hospital which included therapy for about 6 weeks. Then he received occupational and physical therapy at home after that. At that time he was walking with a walker. In early 2003 he came down with a viral infection that significantly reduced his strength and he could no longer hold his weight on his legs. From that point he became confined to a wheelchair. With the help of his loving family, who gave their care so unselfishly, he also received care from Mercy home care over the years. 

From 2003 to 2016 he became weaker and his speech was more slurred as he continued to slow down. He was able to feed himself at times, on a good day, but was very dependent on his family. He continued to be confined to his wheelchair and his bed. He suffered numerous infections including bed sores during this time. Last year, he came down with pneumonia and his body, at that point, was so weakened. He was in Hospice care and was taken care of so well at Bright Kavanagh House for the final days of his life.  

My Uncle Ray raised 7 children with his wife, my Aunt Agnes. He was a loving family man who loved God. He was quick-witted and one of the kindest men you'll ever meet.  My uncle never met a stranger. He was #6 out of 7 brothers- my father being one of those brothers. They were all raised in Cumming, IA, the Irish Settlement. Good, honest, hard working, and honorable men. 

This is my "why" story. My Uncle Ray was an amazing man and my cousin, Maureen, was an amazing woman. We are a tight-knit family and that bond can never be broken, even in death.

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