Athletes, parents rally to support coach diagnosed with ALS
MATTAPOISETT — After hearing of coach Glenn Gardner’s ALS diagnosis, players on the Old Rochester Regional High School girls junior varsity basketball team quickly organized a fundraiser with the help of their parents to support their coach.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a nervous system disease that weakens muscles, and impacts physical function. There is no known cure for ALS, though the disease’s progression can be slowed.
During a home game on Friday, Feb. 14, parents sold a variety of baked goods, and custom bracelets to help support Gardner, while he stayed on the court to coach his team to victory against Bourne High School.
Baked goods were sold for $1 each and included cookies, brownies, cupcakes and more. Red bracelets with black lettering of “Box Out ALS” and “#gardnerstrong” were sold for $3 each, or two for $5.
There was also a 50/50 raffle, and pizza that was donated by Nick’s Homemade Pizza in Mattapoisett.
According to Kate Butler, the athletes came up with the idea to do something to help, bus she and other parents helped to “smooth out the details” and turn the athletes’ vision into a reality.
Fellow parent Lisa Horan said that she was happy to see how quickly the fundraiser was able to come together. “Everyone cares so much for [Gardner] and wanted to do something, and acted,” she said.
Friday night’s fundraiser was the second of its kind, as parents and athletes raised over $600 at a home game on Tuesday, Feb 11. Going into Friday night, Horan said her goal was to raise $1,000.
Gardner said he was “overwhelmed” by all of the support. “They’re a great bunch of kids,” he said of his players.
Friday night also marked the final junior varsity game of the season, bringing Gardner one step closer to his goal of completing the season. He is also an assistant coach on the varsity team, and will likely continue coaching through the playoffs.
After beating Bourne with a score of 30-26, sophomore Lauren Higgins said that the reality of Gardner’s diagnosis is still new information for the team, and that the athletes all wanted to show support. She said she hopes money raised at the game can help alleviate some of their coach’s medical costs, and go towards “anything that can help him really.”
Players on the varsity team are also working extra hard to play at the state championship in the Boston Garden, as senior Meg Hughes said that the team has adopted the motto of “Garden for Gardner” going into the playoffs.
Athletic Director Bill Tilden also spoke highly of the junior varsity coach.
“He’s the guy that will help you out no matter what...he’s just someone you can always lean on,”Tilden said.
Gardner’s friends and family have also organized a comedy night fundraiser at the Century House in Acushnet on March 13. The show will start at 6:30 p.m., and comedians will go on stage at 8:45 p.m. For tickets, call Susan Loo at 774-510-0246.