May 13, 2016

Chat at CYO dance leads to ‘double miracle’

By John Shaughnessy

Elaine AlhandAt first glance, the best story about Elaine Alhand’s involvement with the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) may seem to be how she has devoted 50 years there as a part-time worker, doing everything from helping with music contests to presenting trophies at championship games.

But her best and favorite story is how her involvement in the CYO led to her marriage, how it has lasted 44 years and counting, and how she donated a kidney to her husband Mike when his life was in danger—which not only ended up saving Mike’s life but hers, too.

“I did meet Mike through CYO,” she recalls.

It was during the spring of 1969, an evening when Mike drove a group of youths from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish to a CYO dance at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis. Elaine was working at the dance for the CYO.

“We just sat and talked,” she recalls. “About six months later, we went out on a date. A couple weeks after that I was riding with Bill Sahm Sr. [the executive director of the CYO at the time], and he said, ‘I hear you’re going out with Mike Alhand.’ I said, ‘I’ve only been out with him a few times.’ He said, ‘Well, he’s a good man. You should marry him.’ About six months later, I did. I was a senior in college.”

Fast forward to November of 2004. Mike’s life was in danger because of kidney failure from diabetes. Elaine donated one of her kidneys. Neither imagined what would happen next.

“When they took out my kidney, they also took out my gall bladder at the same time because there was a polyp on it and you don’t really need your gall bladder,” Elaine explains. “Inside the gall bladder, they found cancer which the doctor said would have probably killed me in a couple of months. It was our double miracle. I saved his life, and he saved mine.”

She dedicated a large part of her life to teaching math at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis. She continues to help touch the lives of children and youths through the CYO.

“Mike and I didn’t have any kids of our own,” she says. “I continued to teach, and the CYO is another way I can have kids in my life. I’ve always enjoyed it.” †


Related story: Seven receive Catholic Youth Organization’s highest honor

Local site Links: