You gotta love the people of Ascension!

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen


Although longer than the average letter to the editor, I appreciate your indulgence in allowing me to share these words.  I love Ascension Parish.  I am honored to be a volunteer coach in our local AYBA basketball program.  Last year was fun (we won every game).  This year is important.  I learned what kind of neighbors I have (and for the record, our team hasn’t won a game yet).  Last week, a player on my team came to me after our game and asked if I could meet with him and his relative.  He told me that his mom had passed away (his father already deceased) on the previous Wednesday and she was buried a few days later.  I, of course, asked why he was attending the game the day after her funeral?  The answer was about a young man that needed a little normalcy in his life.  After discussing the situation fully with the family, I heard that the young man was in need of things.

I contacted Carl Seiner, the director of the AYBA program and explained the situation about the young man and asked if we could hold a jambalaya fundraiser using AYBA gyms as sales locations.  Carl was touched by the story and sent out emails to the people in charge of each gym informing them that AYBA was in full support of this project.  I received personal calls offering any support I needed from several directors.

 I spoke to our team’s parents and explained the situation and our fundraising plans.  At this point, the “Benefit for Brian” was born.  We received individual donations just within our team of over $400.00 to pay for the ingredients for the jambalaya.  It was definitely a “Wow!” moment.  Carl Seiner sent out an email to all the people who provided emails at signup letting them know about the fundraiser.  Many people came up offering donations and anything else we needed.  These were also “Wow!” moments.

I had to organize a four location jambalaya fundraiser in 5 days.  Luckily, no…I need a different word…Fortunately, I have a great group of friends.  I coach a baseball team and called a meeting of those parents.  I explained the need, and they volunteered to meet on Friday and prepare all the ingredients for the jambalaya on Saturday.  My assistant coach, Bart Breaux, agreed to cook the jambalaya (meaning getting up at 5:00 a.m. on his day off to have it all ready for 10:00 a.m.).  I had five different families show up Friday to help with onion cutting and other prep work.  There were five families represented at 5:00 a.m. to begin cooking, too.  Yet another “Wow!” moment.

All ten of our basketball families participated in the jambalaya sale and some of my baseball parents, too. As we arrived at the different gyms, we were met by the gym directors offering any assistance they could provide.  At Prairieville, our parents were invited into the concession stand and their staff actually helped sell the jambalaya (our parents sold a few cokes, too).  At Galvez they had already set up for the sales staff.  At Lamar Dixon, not only were they already set up for us, they had a donation jar and posters already on the walls.  Gonzales Middles’ staff bent over backwards to help set us up in a very strategic location.

The fundraiser was a monumental success.  We were able to raise money to buy the young man a complete wardrobe, and enough left over to keep him in clothes until he graduates from high school.  We live in a great community.  With so much negative talk about our roads, infrastructure, politics, and so many other things, we are truly fortunate.  I want to inform you that you have great neighbors.

Now for my thank you’s.  I know everyone mentioned would be angry at me for singling them out, but I am doing it anyway.  Folks, if you see Carl Seiner, and he is hard to miss at 6’9”, stop and shake his hand.  Not just to thank him, but to say that you shook hands with one of the finest people anywhere.  Carl and Jane, thank you.  Bart Breaux, John Vaughan, and Delmar Rambin, thank you.  To the parents of our Bulls basketball team, and especially Allyson Hull and David Thibodeaux, a huge thank you.  The parents of the Hurricane Baseball team, thank you. And to those generous people of Ascension Parish, thank you for the love and support shown during our fundraiser.

I love Ascension Parish.

Wayne McDonald

Coach:  AYBA Bulls Basketball