Hundreds show support for O'Brien family
Lincolnville — “This is what Lincolnville does best” was the mantra for the night at an April 13 fundraiser for 3-year-old Andy O’Brien, who is battling brain cancer.
More than 600 people crowded Lincolnville Central School to show support for the O’Brien family.
In mid-February "little Andy," as he's become known in town, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After a successful surgery in Boston, he is recovering well and is awaiting another round of treatments at Barbara Bush Children's Hospital in Portland, according to family members.
“This absolutely amazing, I’m am overwhelmed — in a good way of course.” said Ed O’Brien, little Andy's father. “I don't think this happens most places. I was talking with my brother Andy, who lives in Portland, and couldn’t really think of anybody down there that would do this type of thing. I am so glad we decided to move to Lincolnville to raise our kids.”
Not keeping little Andy’s illness a secret was a conscious effort, he said. O'Brien said he and his wife Tracee felt the numbers of people who love and care for their family deserve to be informed of what is going on.
“From the beginning we felt that we didn’t want to keep this to ourselves, so we have put it out on Facebook and such because the people that care want to know. We are so blessed to have the support of all our family and friends, it is truly amazing,” O'Brien said.
Living in a small town also provides the O’Briens with a support system that allows for the family's ever-changing schedule.
“I know that if I have to be with my little boy I have a bunch of people that I trust and truly love my kids that can take [care of] them for me,” he said, adding he and Tracee have several other young children. “That is what being from a small town is all about. They help to make things feel as normal as possible.”
Cars as far as the eyes could see lined both sides of Route 235 and the parking lot at the school; the post office and town office lots also were full to capacity. The line to get in at points wrapped out the front door and around the corner to the end of the building.
The community came out in force for the second time in a month to support a family battling cancer. On March 23, the friends and family gathered in support of Justin Hills, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma earlier in the year.
“[This is] another great turnout of support from the community,” Hills said April 13. ”But this is enough of these for this reason.”
The benefit supper was organized by the Masons of King David’s Lodge in Lincolnville and the evening included a bounce house, face painting, batting cage and balloon animals for the kids. Students from Camden Hills Regional High School’s National Honor Society helped with table clearing duties, while the Masons manned the serving lines.
“Lincolnville is great place to live and I’m proud that we are able to give back to the O’Brien family, who has given a lot to this community,” said Mason and fundraiser organizer Donnie Heald. “We want everyone to know that we are thinking of them and this is a amazing show of support from the community.
“The King David’s Lodge wanted to do this and we were originally scheduled for a benefit for the elephants up in Hope, but we decided that this dinner tonight is what we needed to do,” he said. “The members of the lodge have really stepped up and rallied around this family and we are very proud to be able to do this for them.”
Future fundraisers are anticipated. Any community member with ideas for fundraisers should contact Jackie Watts at 763-4504 or firstname.lastname@example.org. A family friend has also organized meals for the O’Briens. To sign up to bring them a meal go to takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=DNVH3344.
Reporter Dwight Collins can be reached at 236-8511 or email@example.com.