A parent’s praise

Mike and Bo Geraghty, second from right, with other members of “Team Bo” at the 2013 Miles for Matheny, an annual fundraiser and community event.

Mike and Liz Geraghty of Cranford, NJ, are the parents of Bozena Geraghty, a resident at Matheny. Bo was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes a range of physical, cognitive and medical challenges. Bo is 22 years old and has been at Matheny for four years. According to her father, “she has thrived, as the staff at Matheny has provided a level of care and opportunity we never could have imagined. Most look at Bo and see what she can’t do. Matheny turned that view on its head and looks at her for what she can do.”

A recent decision by a Superior Court judge in Somerset County, NJ, has upheld a 2011 decision by the Peapack-Gladstone, NJ, Land Use Board to reject a proposed expansion and renovation by Matheny. That rejection was based primarily on complaints by neighbors that increased traffic caused by the expansion would make Highland Avenue, the road leading up to Matheny, more unsafe and would imperil the lives of those using it.

While those decisions were disappointing to the Geraghtys, Mike Geraghty prefers to “shine a light on those who make Matheny the success it is, rather than focusing on those responsible for blocking the expansion.” He does acknowledge, though, that his daughter may have been accountable for some of the traffic on Highland Avenue because, “the Matheny staff has taken her camping, ice skating, bowling, horseback riding, fishing and to the beach. And this past year, she finished an assisted 25-meter walk at the Somerset County Special Olympics.”

He also has a message for the neighbors who opposed Matheny’s expansion and renovation. “You can attend church every day for the rest of your life,” he says, “but if you really want to see God’s work being done, then take a ride to the top of Highland Avenue.”

A mother’s gratitude

Liz Geraghty and Bo.

Accepting the presidency of The Friends of Matheny is, to Liz Geraghty, a way of giving back to an organization that has provided her and her family security and peace of mind. Geraghty’s daughter Bozena was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a genetic disorder that causes a range of physical, cognitive and medical challenges. Bo has been a residential student at Matheny since June 2009, and she has flourished.

When Bo was first admitted to Matheny, the Geraghtys weren’t sure how she would adapt. “We decided we would just follow her lead,” Geraghty recalls. “She was laughing, crying, being stubborn, giggling – all of her normal emotions. That, to us, meant she was relaxed. My biggest surprise,” she continues, “is how much the recreation therapy department looked at my daughter as a teenager, who just happened to have this syndrome. They said, ‘We want to take her camping – three days, two nights.’ I said, ‘You’re kidding!’”

After joining the board of The Friends, Matheny’s auxiliary group, Geraghty became familiar with its origins. “I learned that the group was started by a small group of women who had no family connection to Matheny. The time, effort and energy they spent totally impressed me.” As she prepares to take office, Geraghty is looking forward to recruiting new members to The Friends as well as working more closely with Matheny’s development department and its Board of Trustees.

She can do all of this because she no longer worries about her daughter. “My youngest child,” she says, “has left home, and her future is secure.”