Blue Jays to host clinic to raise funds for Sheppard

DETROIT -- The Blue Jays Baseball Academy and the Whitby Minor Baseball Association will host a one-day instructional clinic in July to help raise funds for a young boy who is dealing with a very serious medical condition.

Ben Sheppard is an 8-year-old who lives with left hemiplegic spastic cerebral palsy. The condition causes a lot of tightness and spasticity in Sheppard's muscles, and as he gets older the ability to move around becomes even more difficult.

A relatively new surgical procedure called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) has been recommended. It's performed by Dr. T.S. Park, most effectively at the St. Louis Children's Hospital, but the family needs some additional financial support and that's one reason why the one-day clinic was created.

"Ben's dream is very simple, he wants to walk pain-free so he is able to play baseball with other kids," said Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, who will be one of the camp instructors. "After understanding Ben's passion for baseball, it was a very easy decision to get involved and lend a helping hand to him and his family."

The clinic will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET and registration is open to both male and female players ages 6 to 15. Each participant will receive a Blue Jays hat, Blue Jays T-shirt, and an Alomar pro style 12-inch baseball glove.

The cost of the clinic is $80 per participant, with all funds raised being donated to help support the proposed surgery. In addition, Honda Canada will match all registration fees generated from the clinic with a one-time monetary contribution.

Toronto Blue Jays alumni will act as the camp instructors and will receive assistance from local WMBA coaches. Instructors include: Alomar, Carlos Delgado, Devon White, Duane Ward, Tom Henke, Alex Gonzalez, Jesse Barfield, Lloyd Moseby, and Paul Quantrill.

The Sheppard family has established a fund-raising goal of $100,000 to help offset the costs involved for: surgery, travel, accommodations and physiotherapy. If you cannot attend the clinic, you can also donate to Ben Sheppard's proposed surgery fund at bluejays.com/HelpBenRunTheBases.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.