Softball, basketball clinics arranged to help coach with ALS battle

For three years, Craig Donahue and Noel LeVasseur had worked together to teach the youth softball players of Maine’s Capital Area.

So when Donahue wanted to help after LeVasseur was diagnosed with ALS, he knew a good way to go about it.

Donahue, along with the Hallowell- and Farmingdale-based Bulldog Strong fundraising group, put together “LeVasseur Strong,” a softball and basketball clinic that will take place on Sunday at Hall-Dale High School, starting with the softball clinic at 1 p.m.

The proceeds — it’s $10 for each clinic, and $5 a ticket for the spaghetti dinner afterward — will go toward LeVasseur and his family, helping a coach Donahue said has become an icon for many up-and-coming softball players.

“I knew how much he had given to the community and youth softball in this area,” Donahue said. “So many people want to give to him because he’s taught so many young girls softball.”

For three years, LeVasseur, a former Cony varsity assistant who had helped build up the Capital Area Youth Softball Association, had coached alongside Donahue after the two started up the Team Attack softball travel program. LeVasseur was diagnosed with ALS six months ago, however, and wanting to both lift his friend’s spirit and help his cause, Donahue had the idea to utilize LeVasseur’s passion toward a fund-raising clinic.

“Over the last two years, we’ve done clinics where Noel finds his zen area. That’s where he feels most comfortable, coaching in a clinic-style atmosphere,” he said. “I was sitting down and thinking ‘What would make Noel most happiest when times are like they are right now?’ Him being able to coach and do a clinic like this, with this many young kids around, it’s the perfect place where he’d want to be.”

To help make the project a reality, Donahue reached out to Ryan Madore with Bulldog Strong, which focuses on charitable basketball clinics.

“I know what that program’s about. I just knew it would be a perfect fit,” Donahue said. “So I approached Ryan and and said ‘This is what I want to do, will you jump on board with me?’ And he said ‘Absolutely.’ “

The softball clinic begins at 1 p.m., with boys and girls basketball clinics at 3 p.m. and the spaghetti dinner slated for 5. Numbers have been good, with anywhere between 50 and 75 kids expected for the clinics and over 250 expected for the dinner.

Donahue hopes this will be an annual event, though its subject is hoping for a broader scope.

“If we do it again, I think Noel wants to focus it on ALS, not himself,” he said. “He wants to bring the ALS aspect to the forefront.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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