A former Franklin man who was recently diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has seen an outpouring of support from his adopted community in Massachusetts.
A GoFundMe account that was established to help Tim Hoffman with his expenses has raised more than $30,000 in about a month.
Hoffman is a well-known and much loved sports photographer in Walpole, Massachusetts, a town of about 25,000 people near Boston. Hoffman has lived in Walpole and taken pictures there since the early 2000s.
"He has the support of many people in Walpole," said Dan Hoffman, of Franklin, who is Tim Hoffman's brother. The Hoffman brothers grew up in Franklin where their parents, Bill and Patsy Hoffman, lived for many years.
Tim Hoffman was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, in December following a fall, Dan Hoffman said. The progressive and neurodegenerative disease affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Tim can still walk, but his speech has been affected by the disease, Dan said.
When members of the Walpole community found out Tim had been diagnosed with ALS, two women, Joanna Gaughan and Bari Hurley, started the GoFundMe account.
Dan Hoffman said the GoFundMe for his brother took off "tremendously" mostly due to contributions from people in the Walpole area. Some contributions have also come from the Venango County area.
"It jumped $10,000 on day one when it began," Dan Hoffman said.
The account met its goal of $25,000 in a week and had climbed past $31,000 late last week.
Dan Hoffman said his brother was "overwhelmed."
"He didn't think he had that much support in Walpole but he quickly found out how much support he had. He has no family up there," Dan said.
Tim, a 1985 Franklin High School graduate who was involved in football, basketball and track at Franklin, said he was "very, very impressed" with the money that had been raised.
"All these people I have done things for with sports photography, that is how I know them. They are really good friends, too," said Tim Hoffman, who was working for Sealy Mattress in Clarion in the early 1990s before he was transferred by Sealy to Massachusetts in 1993. He moved to Walpole about 10 years later.
"It's incredible. Not only the money given but the fact that people are willing to help with his day to day needs," said Dan Hoffman, who is well-known in the Franklin community and school district for his many years as president of the Franklin Red and Black booster club.
Dan said people in Walpole have been delivering his brother meals every other day and have "pretty much adopted him."
"Tim has been a fixture in Walpole for many years. He is the go to sports photographer at our kids' games. No matter what the weather is he is there," Hurley said. "He has been taking amazing photos for years and has given us lasting memories through his photos."
In addition, members of the community worked together to find Tim a new apartment better suited to his medical needs.
Hurley, who helped find the new apartment, said "it was a community effort. Through the community we got the word out there and the pieces fell into place."
"It takes a village. Even with all the evil going on in the world, people stand up and show up when they need to," Hurley said. "It is a testament to what Tim means to the community."
Anyone interested in contributing to the Go Fund Me for Tim Hoffman can go to http://www.gofundme.com and search for "support Tim Hoffman."
Hurley also suggested that those who don't want to donate to the Go Fund Me but would still like to contribute could send Tim Hoffman gift cards for local restaurants, which would both help Hoffman and small businesses in Walpole.
"I moved to Walpole because it reminded me of Franklin. It reminded me of where I grew up," Tim said. "There are good people in both places."