The text from Sister Diane at St. Ignatius Martyr church was as odd as it was urgent: “A man is going to call. You must answer the phone.”
Kerry Ann Troy had just finished her daily “cry time” – that half-hour between dropping the kids off at school and driving back to her gutted house on New York’s Long Island, or to the hurricane relief center, or to wherever she was headed in those desperate days after Sandy, when life seemed an endless blur of hopelessness and worry.
Cell phone reception was sporadic, so even if the stranger called, she would likely miss him. Besides, she had so many other things on her mind.
After spending the first week with relatives in Connecticut, Troy, a part-time events planner for the city, and her husband, Chris, a firefighter, had managed to find a hotel room for a week in Garden City. The couple had no idea where they and their three children – Ryan, 13, Connor, 12, and Katie, 4 – would go next. Hotels were full. Rentals were gone. Their modest raised ranch, a few blocks from the beach, was unlivable.
But the Troys faced another dilemma.
The family had been looking forward to a weeklong, post-Thanksgiving trip to Disney World, paid for by the Make-A-Wish-Foundation to benefit Connor, who suffers from a life-threatening, neuromuscular disease. He had lost one wheelchair to the storm. His oxygen equipment and other medical supplies were damaged by water. He was disoriented and confused.
How could they tell their sick child that the storm that had disrupted his life might also cost him his dream – to meet Kermit the Frog?
Yet Chris Troy felt he couldn’t leave. And Kerry Ann said she wouldn’t go without him.
And then – in the space of a few hours – everything changed.
A school administrator pulled Kerry Ann aside when she went to pick up Katie. She told her of a vacant summer home – a spacious, fully furnished, three-bedroom house in nearby Point Lookout, which the owners wished to donate to a displaced family. The Troys could live there indefinitely, at no cost, while they sorted out their lives. …
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