NORTH PROVIDENCE R.I. ─ The silver 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis that rumbles through North Providence and beyond is remarkable for its endurance after logging 255,000 miles, but the real story involves the man behind the wheel.
John Fallon, one of the toughest individuals you’ll ever meet, is not used to asking for help.
“I’m always trying to help other people,” Fallon said. “That’s what I’m used to.”
Fallon has lived with super-rare brittle bone disease his entire 59 years. His two brothers had it too, including one who died at the age of 30.
“My mom did so much for all three of us. All in wheelchairs,” Fallon said. “She taught us if you want something, get up and go get it. Get it done and that’s pretty much how I was raised.”
He points out friends and others tell him he could sit home and “collect a disability check,” but that never crossed his mind.
“And there are people who need it. I just don’t think I’m one of them,” Fallon said. “My mom would be proud. It’s hard for me to talk about her without crying. She would be proud.”
Getting it done, as Fallon’s mom would say, involves working full-time in information technology for a North Kingstown company, and hours of volunteer work that includes time as an ACI substance abuse counselor.
“I have a lot of friends who’ve proven recovery works,” Fallon said. “They were (in the ACI) for many years and now live incredible, productive lives in our community.”
Now, some of those friends are trying to help John by raising money to buy him a wheelchair- accessible van to replace that Grand Marquis.
Watching Fallon get into the backseat of the car, pull in his wheelchair and then climb through the front seats to get behind the wheel might make you sweat.
A van would make it easier to get on the road but guess who is not complaining about his current situation.
“It’s honestly like you getting in and out of your car,” Fallon said. “You’ve been doing it so long, you don’t think about it. To be quite honest with you, it’s like that most of the time for me.”
Fallon insists others need help more than he does, and “in more simplistic ways.”
“It was just difficult,” he said when asked how he reacted to the help. “I’m used to being the one offering help.”
So far, a GoFundMe page set up for Fallon and other fundraisers has collected just under $11,000, with a goal to raise $60,000 to buy a van.
Whether or not a new vehicle replaces his current ride, Fallon remains positive about his life and not focused on what he does not have.
Instead, he said he’s grateful for many things, including his mother’s guidance, his three children and his wife of almost 27 years.
“She’s got a great heart, and she doesn’t see the chair,” Fallon said. “I think most people see the chair first, but my friends don’t.”
Still, no complaints from Fallon.
“I look at my life now. I’m so blessed to have what I have.”