Billy Palladino — a 1968 Staples graduate — has had a very tough year.
Last fall he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Surgery robbed him of his voice. He’s undergoing chemo and radiation treatment at Danbury Hospital.
In February, while he was hospitalized, his wife — 1983 Staples grad Janice Ann McClenathan — died in her home of a massive heart attack. She was 45.
She had meticulously prepared meals that were injected through Billy’s feeding tube, and monitored his medications.
Just as important: Her full-time job at a small manufacturing company provided health insurance that covered most of Billy’s medical bills.
The Palladinos have no income — and 2 daughters in college.
“They were just your everyday hardworking couple, trying to put two kids through college,” Kathleen Bullard — a friend for 15 years — told the Danbury News-Times.
“They would never say they were having trouble, and before he got sick Billy had worked two jobs as long as I’ve known him.”
During the day he was a bus driver for Greens Farms Academy. He worked nights at a Sunoco gas station in Danbury.
“He’s always been a real sweetheart of a guy,” added Martin O’Grady, his friend since they were teenagers and a softball teammate on state tournament teams in the 1970s.
“I’ve never known him to be mean to anybody.”
Billy recently returned to Danbury Hospital, with pneumonia. On the upside, he is nearly ready to start swallowing small amounts of soft food.
Billy has always been known as a “giver.” So was Janice. Several years ago she cut her hair for Locks of Love, a program that collects hair and makes wigs for children who have lost their own because of medical problems.
Now his friends and neighbors are giving back.
John Voket — associate editor of the Newtown Bee — organized 2 volunteer weekends. Dozens of folks painted his house and cleaned up the yard, improving the home’s curb appeal to put it on the market.
Among the helpers: Tom Hedges, Shelby Pike, Kathy Kopp Sabo, Alex Shook and Lorrie Besser Ward, all Staples grads.
Shelby says: “Please help however you can. We can all make a difference.”
(A trust fund has been set up for Billy and his family at Newtown Savings Bank. Donations may be sent to: “Billy Palladino Trust,” 30 Main St., Danbury, CT 06810. For information, call 203-205-0080. Get-well cards can be sent to: Bill Palladino, 7 Overlook Knoll, Sandy Hook, CT 06482.)