Friday, July 18, 2003 - 7:43:45 AM EST
By Don Eriksson
Perhaps because his eight-year-old son Dana is getting involved in athletics, but more certainly motivated by his sister-in-law's difficulties with multiple sclerosis, Quintin Shea of West Main Street can be seen three days a week walking up to 10 miles a day on the track behind Florence Roche School in West Groton.
He's preparing for a 50-mile, three-day trek across Cape Cod to take place September 14, 15 and 16 to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New England. The MS Challenge Walk 2003 (http://www.msnewengland.org/challenge/index.html) features 20-mile walks on the first two days and a 10-mile walk on the third.
Shea is about $500 shy of the $1,500 pledge amount he needs to participate.
"I was shocked when he signed up because he's not Mr. Athletic," Beth Shea said of her husband. "He's a flannel-shirt, work-boot kind of guy." Beth feels that ever since Dana began getting more involved with athletics, it helped Quintin make up his mind. The couple has a second son, Joseph, 14 months old.
Shea owns his own business, A1 Odd Jobs, and can be seen around town driving his white Ford pickup. "Nothing is too small up to doing roofs and replacing windows," he said of the work.
He doesn't advertise, depending instead on word-of-mouth referrals. For the walk, however, he said he's sent out letters to about 200 customers asking them to pledge money for the walk, and he has had as excellent response.
"My wife was surprised when I came up with the idea," Shea confirmed. "I've never done anything like this before, but what goes around comes around. I hope things get better for my sister-in-law."
Shea's sister-in-law, Pam Carrison of Norfolk, takes "different medications" for "different stages" of the slow-moving disease, he said. Carrison, 39, was diagnosed with MS at age 38.
"Some days she's good and others not so good," he said. "This past weekend we went to Maine and she could hardly walk when we got there. Her dad has it, too. He's in a wheelchair."
Shea grew up in Westford, which is now "way too expensive," and moved to West Groton four years ago. "I love it," he said, except for watching heating oil dollars fly out the windows of the old schoolhouse that is now his house.
"I feel very confident that I'll complete the walk. I feel great about doing this," he said. "I feel it is the right thing to do."
Shea had knee surgery in 1992, but his leg has held up in training so far.
"She doesn't know I'm doing this," he said of Pam. "She'll probably
fall over. She is a very gracious and caring person."
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