Andrew “Woody” MacDonald bought a 1966 Chevrolet Nova in 1983, hoping to refurbish it so he could tool around Lynbrook and Malverne. He never got a chance to, however, because he was too busy raising a family, volunteering in the community and working at his construction job.
Last January, the 56-year-old MacDonald’s time to restore the classic ride suddenly became even more limited, when his doctor diagnosed him with Stage 4 gallbladder cancer that had spread to his liver. He was given six to 18 months to live.
Over the summer, MacDonald, a Lynbrook native who has made his home in the Pocono Mountains for the past 15 years, spoke with his friends from Lynbrook and the Malverne School District, where he had attended school, about his dream of fixing up his Nova. They decided to help.
“As we listened to him go on about his desire to put his son in the passenger seat and scream down the block, we realized that we needed to make this happen,” David Wendt, a childhood school friend, wrote on Sept. 6 in a GoFundMe post soliciting money to repair the car.
The page raised more than $2,000 for the hard-to-find parts needed to refurbish the Nova. MacDonald’s friends traveled from the Lynbrook-Malverne area to Connecticut and Riverhead to pick them up.
His friends didn’t stop there, though. On Sunday they held a fundraiser at the Grant Avenue firehouse in East Rockaway, featuring 14 local vendors selling holiday goods. To get a table at the event, each vendor donated to the cause and provided a raffle basket for the fundraiser. In total, there were 55 raffles consisting of gift cards, bottles of wine, even a Nespresso machine. All the money raised from the raffles will fund the repair of the Nova.
Michelle Croce and Danielle Metzger organized the fundraiser because Croce’s husband, Mike, is a longtime friend of MacDonald’s. Michelle decided to hold a vendor fair because she has held similar events in the past, and had a lineup of willing vendors ready to join in the effort.
One of them was East Rockaway resident Charles Archibald, creator of Seal Sticks, who has taken part in four fundraisers in the past. “I live in this town, and people help each other out,” he said.
For MacDonald’s friends, who wore homemade T-shirts featuring a car with a “Woody” license plate, the fundraiser was an opportunity to repay a man who volunteered tirelessly for the community. MacDonald, Mike Croce said, helped raise two children who were not his own and coached the Malverne Little League for many years.
“He did a lot of good for people,” Croce said.
MacDonald’s son, Scott, said that his father continues to help those who are less fortunate, despite his illness. He said that his dad helped a friend of theirs in the Poconos move out of an abusive situation, and visited her every day last week when she was in the hospital, recovering from injuries she suffered in a car accident.
“He would lay down in front of a train for anybody, really,” Scott said.
MacDonald agreed that he would always help those in need, and said that there are people who are in far greater need than he. “Life is good,” he said. “So many people are worse off than me. Pray for them.”
He also said that he is blessed to have friends who would make his dream of refurbishing the Nova a reality. “I really wish I could sit down and personally write a thank-you to everyone that’s involved in this,” he said.