DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Foxcroft Academy students have never met Jeff McIntyre, 41, of Bangor, but they — with the help of a Dover-Foxcroft collector — plan to grant him his lifetime wish.
When Burke Soileau learned through a contact that McIntyre, a quadriplegic who is dependent on a ventilator, wanted to see a Yankees game before he died, the Sebec man put a plan into action.
Soileau, a serious collector of autographed memorabilia from Major League Baseball players, has donated some of his prized possessions, including an autographed Mark Maguire bat and 1998 All-Star Game ball, for a raffle to raise funds to send McIntyre to see the Yankees play the Red Sox in August at Yankee Stadium.
“These are all material possessions and you can’t take them with you,” Soileau, who is in his 70s, said this week. “If you can make somebody happy while you’re here on Earth, that is all the satisfaction needed.”
“We’re going to get him to a Yankee game,” Ryan Strout, an FA junior, said Thursday.
Ian Champeon, also a junior, agreed. “We’re just doing it to help someone else. We can’t always think about ourselves,” he said.
When Soileau met with McIntyre earlier this month and told him that he would help, McIntyre was like a “kid at Christmas,” Soileau recalled. “He said, ‘Do you really think they’ll let me go to a game?’” Soileau recalled. “When he said that, I made up my mind that I’d do everything possible to get him down there.”
“I appreciate it,” McIntyre said Friday. Eager to take the trip, he added: “I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve never been out of the state of Maine.”
Kelley McTague, regional manager of Alpha One, Maine’s independent living center in Bangor, who contacted Soileau, said she has been working with McIntyre for about 14 years. “Jeff is a huge Yankees fan,” she said, adding that he is overwhelmed and grateful that people are helping to make his dream come true.
McIntyre, who was born with muscular dystrophy and was not supposed to live beyond his 20s, has defied all odds, according to McTague.
“He’s been through a lot,” she said. McIntyre’s mother took care of him until her death from lung cancer. The then-24-year-old was transferred to a nursing home, which he detested, she said. McTague said McIntyre called her one day soon after and said, “Get me out of here.”
Despite naysayers who said he couldn’t live on his own, McIntyre has managed since 1996 to live in his own apartment, where he hires and trains his own assistants, according to McTague.
“He has such a positive attitude on life,” Soileau said.
More than $2,000 is needed for the trip. That cost includes the use of a specially equipped van for the trip, the wages of two attendants, and meals and lodging, according to Soileau.
To sweeten the pot for the ticket sales, Soileau plans to give students who sell the most tickets some of his other baseball possessions.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can mail it to Soileau, 44 North Road, Sebec 04481 or to McTague, care of Alpha One, 1048 Union St., Bangor 04401.