So many people deserve a ton of credit for giving Alden Hallett a day he’ll never forget. The cool thing is, everybody passes the credit on to the next person, as if there’s too much to go around.

Alden is 10-years old, a fifth grader at Hall-Dale Elementary School, and the center for the Mud Dogs, a team of fifth and sixth graders in the Augusta Recreation Department’s youth football league.

When he was 4 years old, Alden had a tumor removed from his brain. It was an aggressive cancer, his mother, Sherrill Hallett, said. It started the size of a pea, and two weeks later, it was the size of a golf ball. Alden had the tumor removed at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. As part of the surgery, a piece of his skull was removed, and a plate was inserted.

When Alden was playing a recent football game against Messalonskee, his parents noticed a bruise on his head. Turns out, the plate had shifted and was no longer connected to Alden’s skull. He was hemorrhaging, so Alden was back at Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital for more surgery.

Give Christina Andow a hand. Andow’s son plays on the Mud Dogs with Alden. Andow started making calls and organizing. She got each team in the Augusta youth football league to autograph a football for Alden. She made sure the Mud Dogs had eye black stickers, the kind you can write on. She got pink ones, and the Mud Dogs played on Sunday with Alden’s name under their right eye.

Andow made sure that each of the Mud Dogs had Alden’s initials — A.H. — in gold lettering on the back of his helmet.

“Alden was scared. He wanted to play football. We wanted to make sure he knew we were thinking of him,” Andow said. “He’s still one of the Mud Dogs. He’s one of us.”

Give Boomer MacFarland, the Mud Dogs’ coach, a hand. MacFarland spoke to Cony High School head coach Robbie Vachon, and told him about Alden. Cony was getting ready to play a big game against Bangor, but Vachon told MacFarland to pass on a message to the Hallett family. The Rams were playing for Alden.

While Alden was in recovery following his surgery. Sherrill received text messages with the score update every 20 minutes. After Cony had won, 49-15, the Rams first win over Bangor in 22 years, there was one more message from MacFarland. Tell Alden when he wakes up, he gets the game ball.

“A lot of people did some wonderful things,” MacFarland said. “I told the Cony coaches, and they just ran with it.”

Give Vachon a hand. Vachon thought about telling his team about Alden before the game, but he waited until after. Then he had all the Rams sign the game ball, and on Sunday, when the Mud Dogs played China in Capitol Park, Vachon and Cony offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert presented Alden the ball.

“A lot of kids I have played for the Mud Dogs. They played for Boomer,” Vachon said. “I couldn’t believe (Alden) was at the game, to be honest with you. Just a couple days after surgery? It was just a small gesture from us.”

Alden, who was back at school on Wednesday, didn’t think it was a small gesture.

“He’s been lugging the ball around,” Sherrill Hallett said. “It’s a great thing for his spirits.”

Give Isaac Gingras, Cony’s center, a hand. Gingras’ father, Dave, graduated from Cony with Alden’s father, Allen. Gingras had a high fever, but played against Bangor anyway, in honor of Alden.

Give the China youth football league a hand. China was the Mud Dogs opponent, and after Alden served as a co-captain for the coin toss, the Mud Dogs opened the game in the missing man formation. No center. When the flag was thrown, China declined the penalty.

The Mud Dogs won, and dedicated the game to their teammate. Alden is doing well, Sherrill said, although maybe a little embarrassed by all the attention.

“It’s amazing what they all did,” Sherrill Hallett said. “Next year, he can play again.”

Cony hosts Skowhegan for its Homecoming game on Oct. 5, and Vachon invited Alden to come to the locker room before the game and meet the team.

“I hope he takes us up on it,” Vachon said.

Give the biggest round of applause to Alden, who came through a frightening and stressful time as bravely as possible. There’s a picture of Alden on Facebook, right after Vachon and Lippert presented him with the Cony game ball. Vachon and Alden are each giving a thumbs up, and in Alden’s left hand is his new prized possession.

So many people deserve the credit for creating a special day. Consider this acknowledgment and thanks to all.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 

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