Sunday, May 27, 2007

Local Umpire Continues to Give All He's Got

Bentson with Shonda Schilling & Brett Rudy
Walter Bentson is STILL a man on a mission. One of the state’s top umpires and President of the Boston Park League, Bentson is battling a debilitating muscle disease. But before it slows him down much further, he has set to make sure there’s help for those who came before him.

Bentson has primary lateral sclerosis (PLS), a neurological disease in the same family as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, the disease that claimed baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig. There are no assurances what the future holds for him, but the fate of friends claimed by ALS – and their families – rests near the top of his mind.

For 15 years, Walter has umpired all over New England. From Boston’s local amateur leagues to the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, Bentson has truly loved the game of baseball and has carried himself with class and respect every step of the way. Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald wrote a stirring piece on Bentson back in June of 2005 entitled “True Blue.”

Even as the disease has slowed him down, Walter has been determined to keep doing what he loves. Last season, Bentson took his spot behind the dish for 1 final game. Rather than go out with a simple nine inning tilt – Walter had different plans. Bentson trained hard for months and successfully umpired over 60 innings in last years 100 Innings of Baseball Spectacular- including the 1st and 100th innings.

Making the feat even more remarkable, Walter simultaneously was able to raise over $25,000 on his own for the cause. These funds have been earmarked to the newly formed Walter Bentson ALS Scholarship Fund. This money, beginining in May of 2007, will be awarded to help the children of PALS receive continuing education despite the staggering costs associated with living with ALS.

Walter cites fellow ECAC umpire, Paul Brooks’ family situation, as a textbook example of who he hopes these funds can help. Brooks’ brother-in-law, Joe Shambo, recently lost his 6 ½ year battle with ALS. Paul’s sister, Maureen has been left to raise their two children, now 11 and 14. Maureen worked a full-time job, took care of Joe round the clock, and was still able to be a mother to her children. Eventually, a full-time caregiver was needed so that Maureen could still maintain income. This caregiver was paid for by the Shambo’s, not insurance. With the staggering costs of yearly medical bills, equipment, and services like the caregiver, Maureen and Joe, like so many others in this situation, were forced to liquidate retirement accounts, stocks, savings and the “college fund” so the expenses could be met. That’s where Walter’s fund will be able to lend a hand.

Despite his setbacks, Bentson continues his hard work off the field throughout the Massachusetts baseball circuit. In addition to being Boston Park League president, he is currently Umpire-n-Chief for City of Boston High Schools, RBI program, Yawkey League, Boston MABL/MSBL, in his third term as a Director for both the College Baseball Umpires Association (CBUA) and the South Shore Umpires Association (SSUA).

We are thrilled to once again offer our support to Walter and the MBUA (Massachusetts Baseball Umpires Association) and applaud his efforts to aid them in their continued fundraising. To make a donation to the Walter Bentson Scholarship Fund through Walter’s participation in the 2007 event, please click the link below or make your donation by phone at 1-888-CURE-ALS. Any and all donations are welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Donate to the Walter Bentson ALS Scholarship Fund

Thank you for your generous support.

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