R&D Project

In the Spring of 1991, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon had a decision to make. They were retiring from years of traveling with their dad in the carnival circuit, and having helped to support their family of 9, they needed a place to settle down. They could move anywhere— but chose their hometown of Dayton, OH. They bought a small, modest house, just a few doors away from where they had been raised right here in the greater Dayton area.

When they were born as conjoined twins they were not expected to live more than a few days. That was 58 years ago.

Throughout their lives, living in Dayton has been wonderful for Ronnie & Donnie. Since retiring, they have lived independently and asked for little help. But recently when their health started to decline, their little brother, Jim, was there for them, offering to bring them into his home so that he and his wife can care for them. Now they have to make another choice: be forced to move into an institution and fall through the cracks of red tape, or find some way to equip Jim's house so that they can move in and receive 24-hour support without depending on the state.

A Standing Chance to Live: The Continuing Story of a Charitable Community

January 29, 2010 — Beavercreek, OH. When Donnie and Ronnie Galyon retired from 35 years of working out on the road, they were excited to finally have a place where they could settle down. Although they are conjoined twins and therefore face many physical challenges, "the boys" have always worked hard to support themselves and remain contributing members of society.

Early on, they were the main breadwinners for their family of eleven, and continued to help financially as they grew older. Since retiring, they have been quite content to reside in their own home, with their brother Jim just down the road and willing to provide any need they were unable to supply for themselves. But as they aged, their health declined to the point that they now require 24 hour care if they are to have "a standing chance to live". The ideal situation would allow the boys to live with family, such as Jim and Mary, who are willing to give that care. But there is a problem: Donnie and Ronnie's house is too small and offers no room to expand. On the other hand, with tiny rooms and narrow hallways, Jim and Mary's home would provide no room for the boys to maneuver, and an addition, able to meet their needs, is more than the couple can afford to supply.

It was while they were contemplating this dilemma that Barb Feldman, a friend of the family, contacted the Christian Youth Corps, Inc, out of Machias, NY. The CYC specializes in organizing communities to complete projects for "some of their own" who are in need, and have completed similar projects across Western New York. After meeting with Donnie and Ronnie in December of '09, the CYC immediately decided to take on the project. In assessing their needs, five goals for the project presented themselves:

  1. To get the boys proper footwear (they had not had shoes in over a year)
  2. A lifting mechanism that would assist them in standing
  3. A suitable bed
  4. A wheel chair built for two
  5. And the needed addition

Within the month since their last visit, the CYC has been able to procure four of these five needs from companies willing and able to make the difference for Ronnie and Donnie. Steve Keoseian, owner of Hersey Custom Shoe Company of Fitchburg, MA, has offered to custom make shoes that will be a comfortable fit for the boys and aid them in walking. Invacare will supply a bariatric lift to help the boys stand, while OrthoSEAT, a division of Mary Free Bed out of Grand Rapids, MI, has volunteered to custom build a bed for the boys that will double as the positioning system where the boys spend most of their time. The "wheelchair for two" will be supplied by Advanced Medical, the local supplier for Pride Wheelchairs where the chair will be custom-built. And each item is being 100 percent donated by the respective companies. In addition, Brentwood Builders has agreed to organize the manpower and materials for this project as general contractor— a huge undertaking necessary to make this project a reality.

R&D Project is off and running!

The final portion of the R&D Project was kicked off with a presentation to the sponsors, contractors and volunteers on Friday, March 12th. It was a great success. The floor plans along with a survey plot and a schedule for the build was on display during the presentation and the preceding banquet. The CYC Community Projects team, comprised of CYC Staff; John Harkleroad, general contractor of Brentwood Builders Inc; and Dean Bollinger, the project architect, were on hand to share with the greater Dayton area what is known as the R&D Project.

This final phase, which is the last of five project goals undertaken since the onset, is to build a home for Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, who are listed in the Guinness book of World Records as the oldest living conjoined twins. This is an addition to the home of their younger brother Jim and his wife, Mary. This will provide a safe, secure home with 24 hour support available to the twins but still allowing them their independence. The plans encompass the very unique needs of the twins, with custom designed rooms and equipment from companies who have joined forces to make a difference for Ronnie and Donnie so they can again break the world record as the oldest conjoined twins ever in history, a goal that can only be obtained with the support of a community willing to assist the two who have fallen through the cracks of society’s safety nets.

The actual ground breaking will be started about the first week of May with a steady list of work to follow. Opportunities to join the Dayton community by volunteering and donating to the project are still available.

Tax deductable donations can be made here on the website through PayPal or sent to CYC Inc., 10001 Route 16, Delevan NY, 14042. If you wish to volunteer, please call us at 716-353-8744 and leave a message with your name, age if under 18 years, and any skills you possess, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Project In Pictures

Group Ramp to the HouseHouseOpen House

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