DANBURY, Conn. — Danbury native Patrick "P.J." Mannion has faith that he will get the help — and the transplant — that he needs after being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a life-threatening lung disease.
Because IDF is progressive, his only chance at returning to good health is a lung transplant. He hopes to be put on the transplant list as soon as possible.
"I'm doing OK," Mannion, 57, said in a telephone interview. "We are strong in our faith."
He also uses supplemental oxygen to engage in many everyday activities. And twice a week, he undergoes pulmonary rehabilitation at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
"I'm staying as active as I can since you need to be as strong and healthy as possible to receive a transplant," said Mannion, who, along with his wife Kathy, has two grown sons -- Chris and Brad.
Due to his condition, Mannion, who is director of facilities and management for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Garrison, N.Y., is now on short-term disability.
To help offset the expenses associated with a lung transplant, a fundraising campaig n has been set up in P.J's honor. So far, over $21,000 has been raised out of a $50,000 goal.
His family is also hosting a buffet dinner, raffle and silent auction , at Pizzeria Mazzo, 32 Newtown Road, Danbury, on April 21.
"I have a great support team. My wife and sons are my biggest advocates, and my siblings and all my relatives and friends have been tremendous," Mannion said.
Mannion, who now lives in Oxford, lived in Danbury until 1987 before moving to New Milford with his wife and raising their family there.
His wife, Kathy, said P.J. has approached his illness with amazing positivity. "It is a daily struggle, but he perseveres and keeps his sense of humor, which helps him stay focused on the road back to a healthy life," she said. "It's been a long journey, but we will get through it all with our faith and trust in God, and the love and support of our family and friends."
"It's beautiful to see how kind and generous the human spirit is," said P.J.'s sister-in-law, Pam, of Brookfield. "It reaffirms the goodness of the human spirit and love for one another."
"My brother P.J. has been an inspiration to me for my entire life. He's always been there for me. We are a close family and we are there for him during this trying time," said Joe Mannion.
To contribute to P.J. Mannion's fundraiser or to register for the dinner at Pizzeria Mazzo, click here .