by Rick Winterson


   Put this date/time/place onto your calendar:  SATURDAY evening, DECEMBER 02, 7 to 12 Midnight,

in the Boston Teachers Union Hall.  THE EVENT:  A FRIENDSHIP PARTY for South Boston’s MARK     

CONDE to help him during his rehabilitation from the effects of Neurosarcoidosis.


Neurosarcoidosis?  Yes, neurosarcoidosis – a rare autoimmune disease that affects the nerves in the brain and along the spinal cord.  Its cause is unknown; it is a difficult disease to spot.  But in Mark Conde’s case, it has caused him to lose the use of both legs.  Mark can’t walk any longer, or even stand by himself without extensive support.

For ten years before coming down with his illness, Mark had been a chef at the Convention Center on Summer Street in South Boston’s Seaport District.  You can easily understand that pursuing his profession as a chef without the use of his legs is impossible for him.

But there is hope – a lot of it!   One in three people can recover completely from the effects of neurosarcoidosis; another one out of three people can significantly improve.  That’s two out of three people who can get better, but permanent recovery requires long (and expensive) care and rehabilitation.  This is the reason for next Saturday’s Friendship Party for Mark we mentioned in our intro line.

Despite setbacks, Mark has a few very important things going for him.  His spirits are amazingly high.  He smiles, takes part in life with joy, and is unquenchably enthusiastic about his future.  He exercises and plays sled hockey with gusto.  He also has the best of helpmeets in his devoted wife, Amy Fitz Conde.  Amy works for Weber-Shandwick, the Boston PR firm; she’s determined that Mark will have access to the best of therapies, leading to complete recovery of the use of his legs.  And according to her, “The neighbors have been AWESOME!”.  They now live in Lower Mills, but Mark is a born-and-brought-up Southie lad from E Street and Old Colony.  He has that South Boston toughness and optimism in his blood.  Their friends in both Lower Mills and South Boston have been totally supportive.

So now we come to the challenge, as well as the chance to support Mark and Amy – the Friendship Party next Saturday evening, December 2.  To be very specific, Mark has shown some improvements in his balance, mobility, and movement of his feet, after four sessions per week at renowned Spaulding Rehab and a facility called “Journey Forward”.  The Journey Forward programs, which are progressive and experimental, are working.  However, they can extend over one or two more years, and are not covered by insurance.

In the past, Mark often spent his time and talents helping others.  So it’s now up to us to help Mark and Amy in any way we can.  See you next Saturday at their Friendship Party.