Even in a small community like the south Lafourche area, we lose track of old friends. Such was the case with Alan Matherne, a guy who has worked for over 20 years as the coastal extension agent serving the parishes of Lafourche, Terrebonne, Assumption and St. Bernard.
He is a member of the Marine Extension Project of the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Sea Grant program, the same position Ted Falgout and Windell Curole had early in their careers.
This was the type of job that put Alan in close touch with coastal fishermen, landowners, crawfish farmers, businesses, local governments, and students.
The work Alan has done with learning the needs and wants of local fishermen, farmers and coastal residents has resulted in improved benefits and legislation.
Alan also wrote a monthly column for this and other area newspapers named Coastal Currents.
It is a bit unfair to mention all these activities in the past tense as Alan still is our coastal extension agent and still writes his newspaper column each month - except now it's from his home because he can't do the field work from a wheelchair.
Alan Matherne was always very active physically. Under his carport is a four wheeler, a street legal dirt bike and a small aluminum fishing boat. One of the things he loved to do was hiking in national forests. He said he loved to walk and enjoy the outdoor life. But now that has all changed.
It was about this time last year when Alan began experiencing an unexplained weakness in his legs. He began stumbling and falling often. Once he fell in his bathroom and broke several ribs. Alan had to resort to using a cane.
After dozens of physical and neurological examinations, this past October Alan was diagnosed with Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS). This is a type of motor neuron disease that can rapidly cause muscle nerve cells to weaken and degenerate. Alan now can no longer use his lower limbs and is confined to a wheelchair. The disease is now beginning to affect his upper body and respiratory system.
My friendship with Alan Matherne goes back 30 years or more when we were both involved with the South Lafourche Chamber of Commerce. Alan had always been active in community projects and very civic minded. He was always a source of energy and good ideas. Ever since I have known him, Alan has always been a dedicated public servant ready to serve in any way to help this community.
Now, it may be time for this community to help Alan!
PLS is a disease much like ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), however, primary lateral sclerosis progresses more slowly than ALS and in most cases is not fatal. It has been referred to as a “milder form of ALS”.
Even as resourceful as Alan has always been, now he faces the challenge of his life. He is a single parent with two daughters and a granddaughter to care for. And, although the girls are a great help during this difficult period, there will be unexpected expenses that will surely come with this debilitating illness. Future medical expenses, supplemental care, special equipment such as a motorized wheelchair and specially equipped vehicle quickly come to mind.
A group of folks who have known and worked with Alan as marine and coastal agents all over Louisiana insisted they wanted to help. Friends of Alan Matherne has been established as a way to show him support by providing words of encouragement, volunteering our time, or donating to a fund that will help ease a small part of the financial burden faced by Alan and his family.
Alan is a reluctant recipient of financial assistance but there are a lot of unknown medical expenses ahead. He has benefited some from the local ALS organization and is impressed with the research and money raised by the Steve Gleason Association, but the care and treatment required during this lengthy illness will be very expensive.
Please consider making a contribution in support of Alan Matherne. This is what you need to do: Follow this link to get to Friends of Alan Matherne: http://gfwd.us/4d4w7
At this site donations can be made by credit card. There is a small service charge.
If you want to contact Alan personally, all of his contact information can be seen at bayoulog.com or on his facebook page under Alan Matherne.
My friend says he is still available to help fishermen, farmers, and coastal businesses so give him a call.
Thank you for your support.
Posted on Fri, January 29, 2016
by By Larry D. Weidel Contributing Writer