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Blue Jays to help Ben run the bases

The Blue Jays Baseball Academy in conjunction with the Whitby Minor Baseball Association (WMBA) will host a special one day Honda Instructional Baseball Clinic on Sunday, July 20th at Iroquois Park in Whitby, Ontario. The clinic will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 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 a Roberto Alomar pro style 12-inch baseball glove. Interested participants can now register at bluejays.com/HelpBenRunTheBases

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

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

"Ben's dream is very simple, he wants to walk pain free, so he is able to play baseball with other kids" noted Blue Jays special assistant and Hall of Fame member Roberto Alomar. "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."

About Ben Sheppard

Ben Sheppard is eight years old and loves everything baseball. His favourite team is the Toronto Blue Jays and his dream is to play on the big field one day; running the bases and catching balls like his heroes.

Ben was adopted at the age of five and lives with left hemiplegic spastic cerebral palsy. This condition causes a lot of tightness and spasticity in Ben's muscles, particularly on his left side. As a result, Ben experiences many challenges participating in daily activities that many of us take for granted; even something as simple as walking is a constant challenge for Ben.

As Ben gets older his ability to move is deteriorating. The tightness in Ben's muscles is preventing his bones from growly properly. This is very uncomfortable for Ben and often very painful. As a result Ben frequently falls and has been relying on his wheelchair to get around.

In order to improve Ben's quality of life, he needs a surgery called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). SDR is a relatively new surgery performed by the highly skilled, Dr. T.S. Park, most effectively at the St. Louis Children's Hospital. This surgery will release some of the tightness and spasticity in Ben's muscles, which will allow him to move around more freely.

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

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