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Dying man makes journey back home


10/12/2010
By ERIN MATHEWS Salina Journal

Anthony Napoleone is back home in Maine.

The 28-year-old dying man’s wish was granted Sunday, when an anonymous donor from the East Coast provided a private jet staffed with nurses and stocked with medical equipment and covered all expenses of his flight, said family friend Marlo Magee.

She said the donor requested that no public announcement be made until after the flight was complete.

Rayleen Wright, Napoleone’s mother, said the donor heard about Napoleone from a Salina Journal story that was picked up by The Associated Press and run in several newspapers in Maine.

“He saw it and said, ‘We’re getting him home,’ with no hesitation at all,” Wright said.

She said she doesn’t know the donor and hasn’t met him, and she “didn’t know there were still people out there” like him.

“It’s amazing there are good people out there that do care about other people, and they’re not selfish,” Wright said. “I appreciate everything. He has no idea what he’s done for my son and myself through his generosity.”

Napoleone was medicated and slept through the flight, Wright said. She flew with him and plans to stay as long as her fragile, paralyzed son lives. She said he was resting Monday at his aunt’s house in Raymond, Maine, and she plans to arrange for his children to visit soon.

His dying wish

Napoleone had lived in Maine until he came to Kansas to visit his mom and sisters at Thanksgiving 2007. He got a construction job, and his stay in Kansas lengthened. Then on July 13, 2008, his sister’s boyfriend stabbed him in the back during a fight, and he became paralyzed.

His condition continued to deteriorate until he was given a diagnosis of weeks to months to live, and Hospice of Salina began working with the family to assist in his care. His dying wish was to return to Maine to see his two sons, Parish, 10, and Gage, 4, and his stepchildren, Gavin, 7, and Nicole, 2, who live there with his ex-wife. Friends and relatives posted his story on the social networking website Facebook, and a “Funds for Anthony Napoleone” account was opened at Security Savings Bank, 317 S. Santa Fe.

Magee said that as of Saturday, $900 had been contributed to the bank account. She said that money will help defray funeral expenses.

“We’d like to thank everybody for their prayers and thoughts,” Magee said.

Making the flight

Wright said the flight took two hours, and when Napoleone woke up, he was surprised to learn he was in Maine.

“He said, ‘I fell asleep and all of the sudden I was in Maine,’ ” she said. “He’s excited. He’s happy. It’s overwhelming to him.”

Wright said the plane was met by Napoleone’s father and his grandparents, and they had an emotional reunion after not having seen each other for more than two years.

“They cried,” she said. “His father got on the plane to welcome him home.”

When they arrived at the aunt’s house where Napoleone will stay, at least temporarily, his cousins “came piling out of this house running down to the car so they could see him,” Wright said. One of his cousins picked him up and carried him into the house, she said.

“It was wonderful, really extraordinary,” Wright said. “It was just awesome to see. I finally got to see my son with a smile on his face.”

n Reporter Erin Mathews can be reached at 822-1415 or by e-mail at [email protected]






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