The first pitch: Local community members bat against ALS

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 6:03 PM CDT
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HAYWARD, WI. (Northern News Now) -- Sunny skies meant one thing for people in Hayward Wisconsin on Sunday: perfect softball weather.

But those running towards the home plate weren’t just doing it for the win.

Don Sheehan of Hayward Wisconsin spent most of his life taking care of others.

“I was Sheriff for 20 years and then this bug snuck up on me,” said Sheehan. “It cut my career a little short.”

Sheehan was diagnosed with ALS about five years ago.

“My legs started shaking and I thought it was just fatigue, it wasn’t,” said Sheehan.

It’s a difficult journey for anyone, but it’s not one he is doing alone.

“I took care of them and now they’re taking care of me,” said Sheehan. “You can’t go wrong with that.”

Sheehan’s daughter, Julie Zawistowski, now taking it into her own hands to raise awareness for ALS.

Bringing together Hayward coaches and law enforcement, she formed the Jaeckel-Sheehan Coaches versus Cops Softball Classic Fundraiser.

Honoring her dad, and retired coach of Hayward High School, John Jaeckel.

“We just thought what a great way to bring them together, have some fun, and raise a little money,” said Zawistowski, the Coaches versus Cops event coordinator.

She said she wanted to make sure the audience got involved in a creative way.

“They have to bat with the drunk goggles on, we are doing a dizzy bat, or things like that where the audience can pay to have any player do,” said Zawistowski.

And although Sheehan faces a long journey in front of him, it doesn’t stop him from enjoying every moment.

“I just get up every day and do my thing,” said Sheehan. “I love my girls, that’s what keeps me going.”

All the money raised from the softball game will go towards their goal of reaching $75,000 for the Jaeckel-Sheehan 5k Walk against ALS.

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