More than three years after her son was badly burned in a gel candle accident in 2011 — an accident that has left him in need of constant care for traumatic brain injuries — Nancy Reyer will be honored at a fundraising gala next month at Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in Riverhead.
And a little more than a month after she watched him earn an honorary diploma at Riverhead High School, Ms. Reyer will be named Caretaker of the Year for her dedication and hard work caring for Michael, as well as her constant work to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury survivors and for Brendan House, a group home under development on Sound Avenue that will one day serve as Michael’s new residence.
The award will be presented to Ms. Reyer at the 6th Annual Summer Gala, a fundraiser for the traumatic brain injury nonprofit New Beginnings Community Center — the organization building Brendan House — Aug. 15.
“She’s always out there talking to businesses, promoting our fundraising,” said Allyson Scerri, founder of New Beginnings Community Center. “She’s amazing.”
But Ms. Reyer said she’s just “doing what any mother would do.” She said it’s the people and businesses across Riverhead who have supported her, Michael, and Brendan House that deserve the praise.
“It’s such an honor to come from such a loving town,” she said. “It makes me feel proud.”
Several businesses — like Riverhead Building Supply, Lowes, and Home Depot — have donated supplies and construction materials for Brendan House, which will provide 24-hour care for up to eight residents suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Costs for care would be covered by the patients’ insurance, Ms. Scerri said.
The 1,900-square-foot historic property being renovated for the project was built in the early 1900s and once served as a group home for unwed mothers. The building was given to New Beginnings in 2011, and plans for Brendan House began soon after.
As part of its renovation, a 2,500-square-foot extension was built on the rear of the structure.
The property is named after Brendan Aykroyd, a 25-year-old Blue Point resident who died in 2011 after suffering a brain injury in an assault two years earlier.
Ms. Scerri said the group hopes to open Brendan House this fall. She said that while the siding of the house is finished, the home still needs to have fire alarm systems installed and must undergo inspections.
“It was a tough winter to get through, but we’re on a bit of a roll now,” Ms. Scerri said. She said that while Brendan House has received numerous donations, the group still needs more funding to pay laborers and contractors to finish the job.