By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - A local boy will have a few seconds of fame Thursday when his name is displayed on a scoreboard between innings during a New York Yankees game against Toronto.The best part is that Tyler Wintle, 10, of Dexter will be sitting in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, watching his favorite major league team play ball when his name is flashed for the world to see.
It's part of a package that benefactors have arranged for Tyler, who is struggling with brain stem glioma. Although the young boy has valiantly attempted to fight the life-threatening cancer with steroids, radiation and chemotherapy, a recent magnetic resonance imaging showed that one of his two tumors is growing.
Thanks to donations from throughout the country, the spunky boy, whose love of the Yankees is well known, will attend his first Major League Baseball game this week accompanied by his parents, Sandy and Scott Wintle, and his best friend, Jared MacDonald, 10.
"Tyler can't wait to watch the game," Sandy Wintle said Tuesday. "He is really going to have a good time."
Wintle said the trip is actually a godsend for the entire family, including her and her husband, who are worn out from worrying about their son, the family's finances, and from traveling between home and the hospital.
Aware in advance that funds were being raised for the trip, the family timed Tyler's treatments so his white blood count would be at its highest this week. Although the disease and the medical treatments have sapped his strength, affected his eyesight and robbed him of his hearing, the young boy refuses to give in.
"I am so proud of him," Sandy Wintle said Tuesday, her voice breaking. Her son has remarkable determination and stamina, she explained. The trip has given Tyler something on which to dwell besides the headpiece that he will need to wear next week when radiation treatments begin again, she said.
"I just want him to go and have the best time of his life and come back and say, 'I did what I wanted to do,'" Sandy Wintle said.
The young mother said she is overwhelmed by the generosity of those who sent donations to make the trip possible and especially thanked Burke Soileau of Dover-Foxcroft, who started the fund-raising campaign.
Soileau, who met Tyler earlier this year and gave him a couple of autographed baseballs from his own collection, was touched by the bespectacled young man - so much so that he enlisted the help of his friends at the Knights of Columbus in Dexter, particularly Rick Bilodeau, to raise funds for the trip.
Club members emptied their pockets the first night of the fund-raising drive and raised more than $200. The rest, about $4,000, was sent by people who read or heard about Tyler's struggle, including a young girl who sent her savings of $42 along with a note that said she was a Red Sox fan.
The money raised will be used for general expenses, including a trip for Tyler to Pokemon Center in New York.
One particularly generous person, Virginia Jolander of Carmel, gave the family her frequent-flier miles, enough to purchase four round-trip tickets to Newark, N.J., and she also gave the family two nights' stay at the Marriott Hotel in the area.
The Yankees also have been generous, according to Soileau. At his request, the baseball team is donating four tickets to the game, plans to display Tyler's name on the scoreboard and may have other surprises in store for the boy, he said.
"I want them to have a good time, and I plan to tell the boys not to go streaking out onto the field," Soileau joked Tuesday.
To Sandy Wintle, Soileau is a living angel.
"Burke and Richard Bilodeau have been unbelievable," she said. Wintle also said she was grateful for the donations. "People have been incredibly generous; we just appreciate is so much."
"Other than a personal thank you, how do you tell someone thanks for making my family so happy?" she asked.
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