'Fore' a good cause

Mayor's Golf Outing raises funds for ailing Lynbrook Police Department inspector battling ALS

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As the sun beat down on the fifth hole at the Seawane Club in Hewlett Harbor on Monday, Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach prepared to tee off. One of the onlookers speculated about where Beach’s shot would land.

“It’s not gonna go in, I’ll tell you that much,” Beach yelled with a laugh before driving the ball.

It was one of many light moments during the annual Mayor’s Golf Outing, but it was all for a serious cause. The event supported former Lynbrook Police Department Inspector Ronald Fleury, who is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Most proceeds went to Fleury and his family, while some were earmarked for the Lynbrook Community Chest, which provides financial help to Lynbrook residents who have fallen on hard times. The total raised had not been calculated as of press time.

“He’s a wonderful man, a wonderful police officer and served the Village of Lynbrook for many, many years,” Community Chest Chairwoman Laura Ryder said of Fleury. “So we’re very happy to see that a portion of these funds are also going to his trust account to help his wife, to help his children, and we couldn’t be happier.”

Fleury, 54, began having problems in December 2016, when he returned home from the grocery store and fell face down in his driveway. After a barrage of tests, he was diagnosed with ALS the following February. ALS afflicts only 4 in 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Most ALS patients are diagnosed between ages 40 and 70, with the average age of onset being 55. It is a progressive disease that causes sufferers to lose all muscle control. There is no cure, and Fleury now uses a wheelchair.

In all, 152 golfers took part in the event — a record for the outing. The day included raffles, auctions and competitions, such as a longest-drive contest and a hole-in-one challenge. About 200 people came to the country club in the evening for a dinner in Fleury’s honor, and police organizations sold T-shirts sporting his name for $30 each, with proceeds going to his family.

“He was very conscientious and dedicated to the village,” Beach said. “He was definitely diligent. I don’t ever remember him missing a day’s work. He really held the Police Department together.” The mayor said that Fleury took an intelligent approach to policing, helping the village save money, managing officers and selecting candidates to join the force.

At the event, Beach played alongside Keith Reardon, John Bua and Timmy Leake. The foursome of David O’Neill, Vinny Sorrentino, Mike McEnerney and Glenn Pollack won the tournament.

Fleury attended Copiague High School and studied computer science at Polytechnic University in Manhattan. Soon after, he opened Smith Brothers Pizza in Merrick, but left the business in 1993. He then worked as a computer sales associate for Nexus Systems in Carle Place before joining the Lynbrook P.D. in April 1994.

Known for his computer skills, Fleury was promoted to sergeant in August 2003 and moved to the inspector’s office in 2005. He specialized in data analysis, and acquired equipment to conduct training exercises with the department’s officers. He made lieutenant in 2010, and became second-in-command to Chief Joseph Neve in 2011. Fleury assisted Neve with the day-to-day operations of the 49-member department.

“Each time I speak to him on the telephone or see him, he talks about the Police Department,” Neve said. “I recognize him as a person who would do anything to assist a co-worker, friend or stranger. He’s a good friend and a very generous person. I miss him greatly.”

Fleury revealed his diagnosis publicly at a Police Benevolent Association meeting in April 2017. Fighting back tears, he told members of the force that he would eventually lose all control over his body. Last August, he lost the use of his legs, and in October, his hands began to curl as they stiffened.

Fleury left his job to spend as much time as he could with his wife of 29 years, Donna, and their three sons, Christopher, Nicholas and Raymond.

“He was the best of the best for the Lynbrook P.D.,” said Jeff Greenfield, who leads the golf outing’s organizing committee each summer. “He is a gentleman and a class act, and someone who is worthy of this recognition.”

Greenfield lauded community members for aiding Fleury and his family in their time of need. He noted the generosity of the police community and the residents who donated raffle gifts.

Fleury and his family could not be reached at press time, but he told the Herald in February that even as the disease progresses, he will cherish his family time.

“At this point in the disease, it’s less about me and more about my wife and kids,” he said, fighting back tears. “I just want to make sure that I do everything I can to make sure they’re taken care of.”