When Village of Florida resident Steve Cushing kissed his wife, Andrea, goodnight a few weeks ago, he had no hint that it would be the last time. Sometime in the early morning hours of Fri., Dec. 16, Andrea, a healthy, active woman of 48, passed away with no warning and no explanation. Since that time, the outpouring of community support in remembrance of this incredible wife, mother, and volunteer has been extraordinary, reflecting the love and dedication Andrea provided to her family and community at large.
The mother of three sons, Stephen, 19, Matthew, 17, and Kevin, 9, Andrea was a driving force in their lives and the activities in which they were all involved, including Boy Scouts, where Stephen is an Eagle Scout, Matthew is working on his Eagle designation, and Kevin is preparing for the upcoming Pinewood Derby. As active as they were in Boy Scouts, Little League, and the boys’ schools, Misericordia University, John S. Burke Catholic High School, and Golden Hill Elementary School, Andrea and Steve’s passion is summed up in their motto, “Faith, Family and Football.”
Andrea and Steve served as coaches, team parents, and their sons’ biggest fans. Andrea paced the sidelines with her camera as photographer for the Misericordia, Burke Catholic and Warwick Youth League teams, and the pair prepared post-season videos for the Burke Catholic team and for many other school activities. Because Steve’s mobility is severely limited by multiple sclerosis, Andrea, Steve said, “Did everything so I could spend quality time with her and the boys.”
“Everything” included planning and running team dinners, school and team fundraisers, pep rallies, homecoming dances, award ceremonies, pre-game ceremonies, and serving as team mother. She was tireless, said her husband, adding that Andrea was “the heart of the family.” Because of Steve’s MS, Andrea took on the brunt of household chores, assisted by her sons. They were both very proud of the three boys who, like their parents, served their local communities through their Boy Scout activities, serving as ushers at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, working at the Goshen Food Pantry, and coaching youth football, among many other activities.
Steve and his sons and Andrea’s mother, Linda Ahrens, brother Richard Ahrens, sister Christine Contursi and their families, along with Steve’s mother and his sisters’ families, were stunned by the outpouring of support from local communities when news spread of Andrea’s death. A meal schedule was set up to provide dinners for the family, and every date until the middle of April has already been filled. Burke Catholic has established the Andrea Cushing Service Award, which will be presented each year to a football parent whose contributions to the team reflect her love and dedication to the football program and its team members.
An anonymous donor paid for Andrea’s funeral, and her sister Christine’s employer donated the post-funeral luncheon. A fund for the three Cushing boys’ college education (SMK Cushing Fund, c/o Walden Savings Bank, P.O. Box 85, Florida, NY 10921) and a GoFundMe account were established, and the Brian Ahearn Children’s Foundation made a contribution to the family as well.
It should be no surprise to the Ahrens and Cushing family that the many community organizations that were recipients of their generosity want to give back to the family, but Jacquie Cushing, Steve’s mother, said, “We had no idea that so many people would want to help. The love and support have been overwhelming.”
Steve and his family are grateful to all of who have reached out in so many ways to assist them, and are hopeful that he and his sons can continue to serve their local communities. “That’s what Andrea would want,” said Steve.