Two years ago, Keith Taylor was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Because there is no cure, many of the treatments for it are experimental and are not covered under insurance. This has made medical bills very high for the Taylor family, and the Windham community has stepped up in a big way to help their neighbors out.

With Keith’s son Jackson, a senior on the Eagles’ boys team playing his final game at home Tuesday night, the town, as well as members of the Gorham and Windham basketball teams showed their support by wearing shirts reading “Open season on ALS” as part of a fundraising effort to help the Taylor family.

At Tuesday night’s game against Gorham, the basketball team sold the tie-dyed T-shirts at the door. A local screen-printer who did all of the labor for free donated the shirts. The team has also been raffling off donated items including an iPod Touch, a kayak, and Red Sox tickets.

Tuesday’s event was just another step in an ongoing series of fundraising efforts for the Taylor family over the past few months though.

When Jackson’s coach, Kevin Millington, found out that Keith was going to be away in Atlanta for two months getting treatment, he felt compelled to step up and help out. Along with assistant George McCrillis, the team sprung into action.

“They’re such good people and such a quality family and they’ve been so good to us as a community,” said Millington. “(We want to do) anything we can do to give back to them because they’ve given so much to us and they’re struggling right now.”

At first, the fundraising effort started with a modest goal, but the coaches quickly realized just how generous the community was.

“We started by just sending e-mails out to the basketball family and asking for minor donations, something like $10,” said McCrillis. “Within 36 hours though we had raised almost $6,000 just from people dropping off money.”

And the donations have been more than just monetary ones.

“We’ve been getting all kinds of different donations, everything from money to items and services,” said McCrillis. “We had a local businessman step up and find a place for Keith to stay for free in Atlanta.”

Another local businessman donated his frequent flyer miles to Keith so that he could fly home this week to see his son play in his final home game at Windham.

After the game Tuesday night, Jackson Taylor expressed his gratitude for all the community has done for his family.

“Certainly it’s humbling to know that so many people want to help,” he said. “The way this community has rallied around us has been beyond unbelievable, even people we’ve never met have stepped up. It’s a tribute to my dad and what kind of guy he is. He deserves it, he’s a good guy and for him it’s a big deal.” But it wasn’t just the Eagles and their fans involved in the effort, the Gorham players and coaches joined in as well.

Earlier this season when the Eagles traveled to Gorham, Millington and Gorham coach Josh Longstaff were talking before their game. The conversation turned to the benefit Windham was planning for Tuesday’s games and Longstaff jumped on board to help.

“Josh was quick to say, well we want to wear the shirts too and I’ll get all my staff and players to wear them,” said McCrillis. “(It’s great that) another community that we have a great rivalry with, steps up and says they’re going to try and do whatever they can to help this family out.”

Jackson Taylor, who is good friends with a few of the Gorham players through playing with them in football, said he couldn’t be more thankful to the Gorham team and community.

“It’s a testament to Gorham too, they’ve got a great coach and a great group of kids who really do things right,” he said. “They’re a really classy program and they do all the right things,” said Millington, echoing Jackson’s sentiment. “I don’t think I’d want any other school next to us on a night like tonight.” Anyone who is looking to help out the Taylor family is asked to contact coach Millington at [email protected]

Alternatively, checks can be made out directly to Windham High School on the family’s behalf and they will be given to the Taylor family.

Fans, players, and coaches alike could be seen wearing tie-dyed shirts at Tuesday night’s boys and girls basketball games between Windham and Gorham. The shirts were sold as part of a fundraising effort to help the family of Windham senior Jackson Taylor, whose father Keith has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. For the past several months, the community has been rallying around the Taylor family and raising money in order to help offset high medical bills they are currently facing.
Staff photo by Brandon McKenney
Gorham boys basketball coach Josh Longstaff (left), and Windham coach Kevin Millington stand on the sidelines wearing T-shirts reading “Open season on ALS.” The shirts were sold at Tuesday’s game between Gorham and Windham as part of an effort to raise money for the family of Windham senior Jackson Taylor, whose father has been battling ALS.
Staff photo by Brandon McKenney

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