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Wilmington Community Rallies for One Who Has Helped so Many

August 11, 2018

WILMINGTON -- For the past two decades, families have been touched by the kindness of Tom McLaren and his devotion to helping children.

After McLaren, of Wilmington, was in a motorcycle accident on July 30 that left him seriously injured, it was the community’s turn to give back.

Laurel Collins, a longtime family friend, helped set up a GoFundMe campaign to support McLaren and his family during this critical time. McLaren, who works at the Burr After School Program in Newton, has been a positive resource in many kids’ lives, she said.

“I had no idea until I started reading these (GoFundMe) messages and seeing these families give very large amounts of money, how much Tom has helped and supported their kids,” said Collins, of Woburn. “They are also a very humble family. They are the first people to jump up and offer help -- and they are absolutely the last people to ask for help from anyone.”

The Rev. Bill Hoch, of the Woburn United Methodist Church, knows McLaren through the Burr After School Program his children once attended.

“Tom was just a consistent force in the after-care program who is just an incredibly nice guy,” said Hoch, of Newton. “He had a gentleness to him and a gentle humor. He just has a great calming presence.”

McLaren, 65, has been in the intensive care unit of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington since the crash, which took place in Woburn on Route 128 South. According to State Police, McLaren struck the rear of a 2012 Ford pickup driven by a 44-year-old Wilmington man. The accident is still under investigation.

He is unconscious, using a breathing tube and being treated for broken ribs, a broken clavicle and broken bones in his face and skull.

In addition to dealing with mounting medical bills, the family also lives with and supports McLaren’s disabled mother-in-law and his two children, David, 19, and Leila, 15.

“We’re going to be optimistic because that’s the only choice in a situation like this,” Collins said. “It’s a game of waiting, of seeing how he’s going to do. But at the moment, he’s still in the ICU at Lahey.”

Deb Glancy, of Burlington, attended college with McLaren’s wife, Wanda McLaren, and has remained close friends with the family. After the accident, she said a network of friends got together to offer any help they could. Whether that means staying at their home a couple nights to tidy up, running errands or visiting the hospital, they are there.

“I think that speaks to the friendship Wanda and Tom have given us. It’s payback,” Glancy said. “They’re there for you and they’re very kind to others, so it’s very easy to give back to that.”

The GoFundMe has garnered more than $23,000 in donations in just nine days. One anonymous donor even contributed $1,500. In addition to the financial support, people have been writing supportive and heartfelt messages to the family.

“I think they’re very special people with a special family and I’m so appreciative of the community that poured out their love and support and financial help to help this very deserving family cope through this hard process,” Glancy said.

To contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/support-for-the-mclaren-family . To learn of other ways to support the McLaren family, contact Laurel Collins at 781-308-4577 or collinsadvocacy@gmail.com .

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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