DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — In less than three weeks, strangers donated seven tickets and raised $2,525 so a Bangor quadriplegic, who is ventilator-dependent, could attend a New York Yankees game in August.
All that now stands between Jeff McIntyre, 41, and his dream trip is a special van with a wheelchair lift, but he’s optimistic that someone will step forward to help fill that void.
“I feel great about it,” McIntyre said Friday, just hours after learning of the pot of money raised, making the trip closer to a reality.
Burke Soileau of Sebec, who spearheaded the fund drive and solicited the tickets, was equally pleased.
“Lord, Lord, people from all over the state, not just locally, sent donations in,” Soileau said Friday.
Soileau learned about McIntyre, who was born with muscular dystrophy and was not supposed to live beyond his 20s, from Kelley McTague, regional manager of Alpha I, Maine’s independent living center in Bangor. McTague, who wanted to fulfill McIntyre’s dream last year, solicited Soileau’s help.
“After meeting Jeff, I could see he was so intent, so looking forward to the possibility of seeing a ballgame that I had to do something,” Soileau said.
It didn’t take long for Soileau to put a plan into action. The collector of autographed memorabilia from some of the country’s Major League Baseball players donated some of his prized possessions, including an autographed Mark McGwire bat and a 1998 All Star game ball, for a raffle to raise funds. He then solicited the help of Foxcroft Academy students, offering more of his prized possessions to those who sold the most tickets.
That fundraising and other donations have generated $2,525 to date, according to Soileau. He said the FA students did well to help with the effort. Ryan Stroud sold 300 tickets, the most of any academy student, and he won an autographed Sammy Sosa bat, and student Robbie Harmon came in second and won an autographed picture of Mark McGwire.
In addition to the fundraising, Soileau called his Yankee contacts and requested some complimentary tickets. The Yankees obliged and donated seven tickets so McIntyre, his two assistants and his family could see the Yankees play.
“This is the second time the Yankees have done this in our community,” Soileau said. Soileau had received complimentary tickets a few years ago so that a Dexter boy stricken with cancer and his family could attend a game.
“They’re very compassionate when it comes to helping causes like this,” he said of the Major League Baseball team.
Soileau said he has faith that someone will step forward and offer the use of a van to complete the dream package. Anyone who can help toward that end is encouraged to call McIntyre at 990-3951.