Humble Endeavour by One Little Leaguer Offers Inspiration in the Battle Against Cancer
At times of strife, it can take the honesty of a child’s perspective to remind adults that anything can be accomplished with honest effort and commitment.
James McDonald, 11, plays in North Mission Viejo (Calif.) Little League. His father, Guy, was diagnosed late in 2009 with a Stage 3 brain tumor, which inspired James to raise awareness and funds in the name of cancer research.
“Brain cancer has been hard on my dad,” James said. “So, I thought, ‘What about all those other people out there that have cancer?’ I wanted to do something to help stop cancer and find a cure.”
James researched the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), and decided to help by hosting a bake sale at his league’s field complex and donating the proceeds.
“They (ABTA) really focus on brain tumors and that’s the one I wanted to do,” James said of his choice of charity.
The goal was to sell baked goods – cupcakes, cookies, and the like - during games in order to raise $300 for donation to the ABTA.
As with most families dealing with cancer, Guy McDonald’s diagnosis has been difficult on his wife, Deirdre, James, and his three sisters, Clarissa, 22, Caitlyn, 16, and Delaney, 12.
A seizure suffered by Guy, 45, in September 2009, began the McDonald’s ordeal with the dreaded disease. Soon after the seizure, Guy’s organs began shutting down, and a computed tomography (CT) scan was done. It was at that time, that a mass, that was determined to be a Stage 3 tumor, was discovered on his brain.
“All of the kids have reacted differently,” Deirdre, who is Guy’s primary caregiver, said. “Trying to find a way to help out, James came up with the bake sale idea. Anything he can do to help, he is willing to do … he’s that kind of kid.”
Guy has undergone two surgeries, that removed a majority of the tumor, but a portion remains. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments continue, and to date, the tumor has not grown back. Doctors have not declared him cancer free or in remission, but Deirdre said, “He is doing well.”
The community – including families of the North Mission Viejo Little League, for which Deirdre is Auxiliary President – has surrounded the family in support.
“I challenge other Little Leagues to do what we are doing,” James said. “Leagues can donate the proceeds to any cancer society. We just want to get a cure for cancer.”
The bake sale took on a life of its own. James, a pitcher and catcher, ran the booth when he wasn’t playing. When he had a game, his family and other league volunteers stepped up to sell the home-made snacks.
”We had no idea how big it was going to get,” Deirdre said. “We didn’t have to ask. The word got out and a lot of people, who didn’t have anything to do with our Little League, started coming down to the bake sale.”
Calling the success of the bake sale “an amazing experience,” Deirdre said, “James was 10 when he started the program. We anticipated making about $300, but we ended up raising $2,200. James decided on the American Brain Tumor Association because he said, ‘I know their goal is to find a cure for cancer.’”
The bake sale was held in May which is Cancer Awareness month. James decorated the North Mission Viejo Little League fields and snack bar with gray ribbons in recognition of brain cancer awareness.
Plans are being made for the 2013 bake sale, which again will be held in May, but, James and Deirdre reminded that other leagues interested in doing their own back sale program for cancer awareness can organize it for anytime during the year.
“I wanted to get the word out to help the fight against cancer,” James said. “My dad was really proud of me and suggested we do it again.”
“Guy has been so positive, which makes us even more positive in support of him,” Deirdre said. “We all believe the research is helping.”
Last year, local bakeries made donations, and the McDonald sisters made more than 100 cupcakes for sale. In 2013, James said he has high expectations, hoping to raise another $2,000. “If we could go higher than that, it would be a lot better,” he said.
In an effort to bring awareness and raise funds for cancer research, James McDonald, 11, of the North Mission Viejo (Calif.) Little League, organized a bake sale. Motivated by his father, Guy, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009, and through word of mouth and support of his Little League, James was able to raise more than $2,000 last year. This year, he plans another bake sale for May, which is Cancer Awareness month. He encourages other Little Leagues to organize their own cancer benefit bake sale in support of cancer research. If any leagues would like to find out how James organized his charitable venture, please, contact Deirdre MacDonald, James’ mother, at: firstname.lastname@example.org