Fund-raisers mean father of four can be home for the holidays

The Lagasse family will have enough money to keep dad home for the holidays.

Organizers of a recent fund-raiser for the family said contributions exceeded expectations and will help Dan Lagasse, a father of four, get through the holidays and wait until the holidays have passed to return to work.

A committee of residents got together after learning that Milford resident Michelle Lagasse had died of breast cancer, leaving behind her husband and four children, including a newborn.

The committee worked with several Milford agencies, including the United Way, to raise funds for the family. Efforts included a fund-raiser at Jonathan Law High School Nov. 9. Milford residents came out in droves and local businesses, restaurants, organizations and individuals donated numerous raffle prizes to help the cause.

The family’s story has touched the hearts of many people in and outside of Milford. Michelle Lagasse, the mother of four young children, died in August, not even a month after giving birth to her youngest child. She had learned that she had breast cancer in March while she was pregnant. The cancer was a form that a family friend said was one of the most invasive and dangerous kinds — invasive mammary carcinoma, triple negative breast cancer.

Michelle struggled for her life, avoiding routine cancer treatment for fear of hurting her baby. Doctors delivered the baby, Savannah, at 31 weeks, following which Savannah was taken to intensive care, and Michelle was taken to hospice. Michelle died about four weeks later.

Dan is now raising the children on his own, and he’s still paying bills that accumulated while Michelle was sick. Insurance didn’t pay for her holistic therapies, so there were residual bills, said Nancy Nemec-Jolley, one of the key family supporters. There were other expenses, too, including child care.

Money had been getting pretty tight by November, Dan said. A union electrician, he hoped to return to work after the holidays – but with a newborn and three other children reeling from a major loss, he couldn’t return yet.

Plus, Dan needed time to organize his household in the wake of a tragedy.

Nemec-Jolley said the young family has a difficult time ahead. Money won’t make their loss any less difficult, but it will make it easier for them to focus on things other than bills and routine expenses.

The United Way has set up a fund to help the family, and people may still donate. For information call the United Way 203-874-6791, or call Nancy Nemec-Jolley at 203-283-9026 or email