Disabled Bangor man dreamed of seeing Yankees, will get wish

Posted July 31, 2009, at 10:53 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:12 p.m.

The final piece of an effort to help a disabled man realize a lifelong dream — to see a New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium — will be delivered next week thanks to a Bangor-based specialty vehicles dealer.

Autotronics agreed to rent a specialty van with a wheelchair lift to Jeff McIntyre, 41, of Bangor so that McIntyre, a quadriplegic who is ventilator-dependent, can see the Bronx Bombers play the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 8, said Kelley McTague, regional manager of Alpha I, Maine’s independent living center in Bangor.

“They finally located a van that can take him to New York,” said an exultant Burke Soileau, 75, of Sebec, who spearheaded the fund drive and solicited the tickets that will allow McIntyre to realize his dream.

“They [Autotronics] rented the equipment to us at an extremely affordable rate,” McTague said. “They knew how much Jeff had to spend on transportation and they just met that, and minus, so he could afford gas and all that. They fit it within his budget, which is very, very kind.”

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Soileau learned about McIntyre, who was born with muscular dystrophy and was not supposed to live beyond his 20s, and helped raise about $2,525 to fund the trip. McIntyre’s condition requires him to have assistants 24 hours a day.

A collector of autographed Major League Baseball memorabilia, Soileau 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.

Soileau then solicited the help of Foxcroft Academy students, offering memorabilia to those who sold the most tickets, and called his Yankee contacts to request some complimentary tickets.

The Yankees obliged and donated seven tickets so McIntyre, his two assistants and his family could see the Yankees play — an act typical and reflective of the organization’s generosity, Soileau said. Soileau had received complimentary tickets a few years ago for a Dexter boy stricken with cancer and his family.

McIntyre’s game plan, McTague said, involves driving with his guests to New York City on Friday and seeing the game on Saturday. They will return Sunday. Any Yankee-Red Sox game is special, but this one might be especially so, given that Boston was 2½ games behind New York in the American League East standings going into Friday night’s games.

“Jeff and I have been working on this for more than a year,” McTague said. “We wanted to see him in the old Yankee Stadium, but we could not pull that off. It’s been a grand effort by a handful of great people.”

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

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