|Death: ||Feb. 21, 2001|
Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) - February 24, 2001
Deceased Name: KEVIN G. O'DONNELL, LOAN ANALYST
Kevin Gerard O'Donnell, 36, who battled Lou Gehrig's Disease while inspiring
changes in the nation's Medicare laws, died Wednesday in his Burlington Township home from complications of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the fatal degenerative neuromuscular illness. Mr. O'Donnell was a financial loan analyst for Commerce Bank in 1995 when he was diagnosed with ALS. He continued working from home with special software and the help of his boss and coworkers until last spring, family members said.
He quickly became an activist as well - working with the local chapter of the
ALS Association to find a cure for the disease that afflicts nearly 5,000
Americans each year, and to get legislation passed to improve the lives of those suffering from the disease and their families.
In December, Congress adopted new Medicare legislation that would allow ALS victims - whose physical health usually declines quickly after diagnosis - to get Medicare benefits immediately after they are diagnosed. Under old Medicare , ALS victims were not eligible for Medicare aid until two years after being diagnosed - even if they were forced to stop working and lost their medical coverage.
In 1998, Mr. O'Donnell, already confined to a wheelchair and slowly losing his
ability to talk, traveled to Washington, D.C., where he took part in a news
conference that opened a drive for legislative changes to Medicare. Earlier, ALS officials had introduced him to Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D., N.J.).
"Simply put, Kevin was the inspiration for this legislation," said Kyle Mulroy,
a legislative assistant to the senator. "Were it not for Kevin, the bill would
not have become law."Torricelli cosponsored the legislation, and in speeches referred to Mr. O'Donnell as the bill's inspiration.
Mr. O'Donnell did not live to see the benefits he fought for over the last three
years. While Congress changed the law in December, administrative rules to
implement the change are still in the process of being completed, according to Mulroy.
Mr. O'Donnell was active in various fund-raising events for ALS research, and
was the inspiration for the yearly fund-raiser conducted by the Palymra High
School softball team. He also helped counsel newly diagnosed patients.
In 1995, just months after receiving his own diagnosis, Mr. O'Donnell was
speaking out and testifying before a Food and Drug Administration hearing on the need to provide quicker access to experimental drugs.
He offered support on the Internet and helped other ALS patients with advice on everything from which van to buy to practical information about how to live with the disease.
Mr. O'Donnell was a 1983 graduate of Holy Cross High School in Delran and
graduated from Cabrini College in Radnor, Pa., in 1987.
He was on the soccer teams in both high school and college.
He also had been an avid skier since his youth. It was after a 1994 ski trip
where he fell and couldn't get up without help that Mr. O'Donnell realized there was something wrong, recalled James O'Donnell, his brother.
In addition to his brother, Mr. O'Donnell is survived by his wife of nine years,
Jodi DeMarco O'Donnell; a daughter, Alina; his mother, Marge Egan O'Donnell; and a sister, Keiren Dunfee. He was the son of James O'Donnell, who died in August.
Friends may call from 9 a.m. today in Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church,
Broadway and Ferry Avenue, Camden, where a Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Entombment will be in Lakeview Mausoleum, Cinnaminson.
Kevin Gerard on February 21, 2001 of Burlington Township, NJ age 36 yrs. Loving husband of Jodi L. (nee DeMarco). Dear father of alina. Loving son of Marge O'Donnell of Willingboro. Brother of Keiren Dunfee and her husband Chip of Mt. Laurel and Jim O'Donnell and his wife Margaret of Riverton. Also survived by 6 nieces and nephews, an aunt, Elizabeth Egan of Haddon Heights, and many other aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, extended family and friends. He was predeceased by his father, James O'Donnell of Burlington.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing and funeral Saturday starting 9am at Sacred Heart Church 1739 Ferry Ave. Camden. Liturgy Mass will follow 11am.
Entombment Lakeview Mausoleum.
Lakeview Memorial Park
New Jersey, USA
Maintained by: Mike Bell
Originally Created by: Soul Searcher
Record added: Jul 29, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20684345
Added: Sep. 12, 2011
Sadly, i only learned of your passing at a wedding of mutual friends of ours; I remember fondly memories with you in elementary school; rest easy Kevin, rest easy|
Added: Sep. 11, 2011