Childhood friends of a Westbury man who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer's disease are banding together to help raise money for his care.

The story of Mike Henley, now 46, was depicted in Newsday's 2009 series "Alzheimer's: The Love and the Heartbreak." The story and subsequent articles described the financial difficulties of Henley's wife, Karen, 50, who along with their teenage children, provide constant care for Mike Henley at home.

Karen Henley works full-time for a real estate lawyer, but struggles to pay the family's bills. She currently owes more than $15,000 to Marian Care Inc., a health-care agency in Mineola, and is in danger of losing her husband's health aide, Elaine Henry, who has been with him for years.

When Tom Vogel and Ed Feron, who knew Mike Henley from high school, and Steve Desz, who knew him from grade school, heard about the family's troubles, they organized their first-ever fundraiser.

The event will take place Saturday at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Hors d'oeuvres along with beer, wine and soda will be served. The event will feature comic Joe Leary and live music by the band Funky Unkle, as well as a raffle and raffle auction. The cost is $55 in advance and $60 at the door, with all proceeds going directly to the Henley family, Feron said.

Karen Henley said she was floored when she found out what was being planned.

"It says so much about Mike," she said. "But it makes me realize again how much we've lost." Henley was diagnosed at 36 and has been nonverbal and immobile for years.

Desz, who said he hasn't been in touch with Mike Henley in more than 20 years, said the fundraiser is simply "a matter of trying to help a family out and make it a little easier for them."

Jennifer Mueller, director of Marian Care, said she has tried to help for more than a year but can't afford to provide services without payment much longer."My expenses are going up and nothing is coming in," Mueller said. "But I'll keep doing what I need to do as long as I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

For information on the benefit, go to http://henley-fundraiser.webs.com/ .

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