Featured Story

Proceeds from Kait’s Angels annual yard sale to benefit Southold man with ALS, Cutchogue man with cerebral palsy

Tor and Joni Torkelsen of Southold had big plans for this summer: they’d retire, sell their home and visit Norway.

A few weeks before their scheduled departure, Mr. Torkelsen, 66, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but the couple moved forward with their trip. 

While in Norway, Mr. Torkelsen’s health worsened, revealing an abscess near his upper spine and brain that needed emergency surgery.

After a lengthy recovery and various visits to the hospital, the couple finally made the journey back to Southold. However, all the medical services Mr. Torkelsen received in Norway are to be paid for out of pocket, as they didn’t have local medical insurance that would cover them during their three months there. They still don’t know exactly how much it will all cost.

“We’re going to pay all of this stuff out of pocket, we haven’t even gotten the bills yet,” Ms. Torkelsen said.

When Darla Doorhy of Kait’s Angels heard about their struggle from another community member, she knew she had to help.

This year, Tor Torkelsen will receive part of the proceeds from the organization’s annual yard sale, set for Saturday Sept. 17, at the Doorhy residence in Mattituck. 

Kait’s Angels was established in 2014 after the death of Ms. Doorhy’s daughter Kaitlyn. Each year, it collects items from the public to sell and donates the proceeds to two individuals in the community. 

Anyone wanting to donate can drop off their items at 1125 Ole Jule Lane in Mattituck on Friday, Sept 16, between 4 and 6 p.m. The yard sale runs the following day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a “special” from noon to 1 p.m. of all-you-can-carry for $20.

Kait’s Angels will not accept donation of TVs, computers, baby strollers, car seats, lawn mowers, medical equipment, exercise equipment, large furniture or other large items.

The Torkelsens, whose house sold at the end of April, are currently working with a realtor to find a new place, while deciding if they should rent or purchase a new home. Meanwhile, they will stay in Orient for a month at a place owned by one of Mr. Torkelsen’s customers. 

Mr. Torkelsen had been a contractor for many years and Ms. Torkelsen had been a nurse. They are both members of True Light Church in Southold.

Separately from the Kait’s Angels proceeds, the couple will benefit from a GoFundMe campaign, started by their friend Michael Oliver, which has so far raised over $19,000.

“It’s just amazing to have support here and there’s no other place like it, than Southold and the East End,” Ms. Torkelsen said. “People really do support each other and care.”

The other recipient of proceeds from this year’s yard sale will be 24-year-old John Tardif of Cutchogue. Mr. Tardif lives with cerebral palsy and has suffered from seizures since he was 8 years old, according to his mother, Shelly. 

Nonverbal and confined to a wheelchair, he communicates with the help of a device called Dynovox. Ms. Doorhy has a close relationship with the Tardif family and felt compelled to help.

“It was something I thought, it was close to home. I know Shelly, I know the son, it’s a beautiful family,” Ms. Doorhy said. “It’s not a burden, but it’s a struggle [for them]…a lot of people don’t realize if you have a child with a disability, how much it sets the family back.”

Ms. Tardif explained that John and his twin brother, Joe, were born prematurely at 28 weeks. She noticed early on that John had some delays, but had hope they were related to the premature birth. At nine months old, however, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. 

“From that moment on, it was continuous therapies, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, anything to try to help him along as much as possible,” Ms. Tardif said.

Despite all his health issues, Mr. Tardif’s family — his mother, his father, also John, and his siblings, Katie, Brian and Joe — have always made sure he’s been able to enjoy life and all of his interests.

“He does have an amazing sense of humor,” his mother said. “He always has gotten a lot of enjoyment around sports and music, absolutely loves music, he loves going to music, concerts or hearing music, listening to music.”

Ms. Tardif said the proceeds from the Kait’s Angels yard sale will be immensely helpful for her family.

“It would help out in so many different ways,” she said. “Maybe take John to more professional games, or concerts and stuff like that … it’s just little things like that would help out a lot.”

The yard sale isn’t the only way Kait’s Angels has given back to the community. The organization also recently donated an outdoor shower, three powder-coated picnic tables and a rack for six bicycles to New Suffolk Beach.

Joe Doorhy, Kaitlyn’s father, said they chose that beach because it was her favorite.

“My daughter used to frequent New Suffolk Beach all the time, that was her favorite beach to go to,” Mr. Doorhy said. “We kind of have an attachment to that beach, we frequent there all the time … my wife and I are down there a lot.”

Plumbing for the installation of the outdoor shower was also donated by Mattituck Plumbing.

Ms. Tardif is honored that her family was chosen as one of the recipients and she recognizes all the great things that Kait’s Angels has done for the community.

“[It] is an amazing organization, and they give so much to this community,” she said. “I mean, Joe and Darla Doorhy, they worked endlessly … and constantly give back and that was Kait’s motto — ‘You have two hands;, one to help yourself and one to help others’ — and they really have taken on that motto.”

(function(){ var s = document.createElement('script'), e = ! document.body ? document.querySelector('head') : document.body; s.src = 'https://acsbapp.com/apps/app/dist/js/app.js'; s.async = true; s.onload = function(){ acsbJS.init({ statementLink : '', footerHtml : 'Web Accessibility Solution by The Suffolk Times', hideMobile : false, hideTrigger : false, language : 'en', position : 'left', leadColor : '#146ff8', triggerColor : '#146ff8', triggerRadius : '50%', triggerPositionX : 'right', triggerPositionY : 'center', triggerIcon : 'people', triggerSize : 'medium', triggerOffsetX : 20, triggerOffsetY : 20, mobile : { triggerSize : 'small', triggerPositionX : 'right', triggerPositionY : 'center', triggerOffsetX : 10, triggerOffsetY : 10, triggerRadius : '50%' } }); }; e.appendChild(s);}());