David "Dave" Caron's sister says there's no greater guy.
"There isn't anything he wouldn't do for you," said Barbara Chilton, who lives in Schuyler Falls. "Someone would call him up and say, 'Dave, I need some electrical work done,' and he'd be there the next night.
"He's very, very giving."
Last April, Caron was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, an incurable, fatal neuromuscular disease that causes deterioration of muscles and, eventually, paralysis. Since April, his health has rapidly worsened.
"He is home-bound now, he can't walk, and his hands are all crippled up," said his wife, Mary Caron, in a phone interview from their home in Saranac. "He can't talk very well, but I can understand him better in the morning. By night, his vocal chords are too tired, and it's much harder to understand him."
He also has a hard time swallowing and breathing.
"It's a nasty disease, I'll tell you," Mrs. Caron said.
Mr. Caron, who grew up in Saranac, worked as an electrician for 32 years and later was head of maintenance for College Auxiliary Services at Plattsburgh State. He also built furniture, was an avid hunter and motorcyclist, rode four-wheelers and went to the gym.
"In fact, we were going to the gym together when we first noticed his muscles were pulsating," Mrs. Caron said. "After that, he told me he had to think to pick up his right leg, and that's when we picked up on that it was really something serious."
The Carons took long trips on their bike, as far as Tennessee and Minnesota. They had planned to move to Tennessee after Mr. Caron's retirement.
"We were ready to move down south so we could ride more, and we had a Realtor and everything," Mrs. Caron said. "We were supposed to go in July to buy a home and retire there, but in one half-hour doctor appointment, everything was shot to hell."
HOUR BY HOUR
Even so, the Carons remain optimistic.
"We still love each other and have each other," Mrs. Caron said. "I just take one day at a time," her husband told her to relay for him. "Sometimes I take it hour by hour. I don't think down the road at all."
The Carons have been married for 16 years, have been together for 18 years and have been friends for 34 years. They have four children, Sonya Kampschoro, Tina Caron, Jeff Caron and David Hanrahan; four grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.
"His grandchildren adore him," Mrs. Caron said of her husband, who is considered somewhat of a local hero for his charitable, outgoing spirit.
During the 1998 Ice Storm, the plow truck cleared the Carons' road just so Mr. Caron could get out to help people get their power back on, his wife said.
"Like I said, there's nothing he wouldn't do for anyone," she said. "He was always the first person there to help out."
A benefit to help the Carons with medical, travel and other expenses is set for noon Sunday at American Legion Post 1619 in West Plattsburgh.
Mr. Caron's health insurance will run out Oct. 1, Chilton said, because he had to retire early and some treatment isn't covered.
"Everything (for the fundraiser) has been donated from all different establishments, so many that I can't even begin naming them all," she said.
"Hundreds of people and establishments have helped out, and everybody has been so generous. I can't say enough for the North Country. It's unbelievable."
Friends, family, previous employers and many in the community are all joining to raise money for the couple.
"Our friends and neighbors and community are so good to us," Mrs. Caron said. "We were in a car accident a few weeks ago and totaled our car, and people were lining up offering to help and go grocery shopping for us.
"A tree fell onto our garage in the storm, and neighbors came together to clean that up. ... We're so thankful for everyone coming together to help.
"A great big thanks from both of us to our friends, family, businesses and community for everything."