WESTBROOK — It was almost 12 years ago, but Clayton Eames said he can still remember every minute of the day when his mother lost her nine-year battle with breast cancer.

“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through,” Eames, 39, said Monday.

To fulfill that mission, Eames has solicited the help of tennis star Maria Sharapova, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon and “Garfield” creator Jim Davis.

Last month, Eames, who lives in Westbrook, sent letters to more than 450 celebrities, including Maine author Stephen King and actress Julia Roberts, asking for autographed memorabilia that he plans to auction off on eBay to raise money for the American Cancer Society. So far, he’s received a signed Nike visor from Sharapova, photographs from Gordon and a picture of Garfield autographed by Davis.

Eames has done this before.

Five years ago, he sent about 200 letters and raised about $1,500 by auctioning about 30 items, including a feather from “Sesame Street’s” Big Bird and an autographed script from the soap opera “Days of Our Lives.”

The top seller was an iPod from Yoko Ono engraved with “Imagine 2005” that went for about $230.

A Beatles fan, Eames had previously had less-than-fond feelings for Ono. “She donated that, so it softened my stance on her,” said Eames, who sent her another letter in July.

Last time, Eames said, he was still getting responses more than six months after he sent out the letters. This time he’s waiting to get a few more items before he starts to put them up on eBay.

There is no particular dollar amount that Eames hopes to raise in the celebrity auction, which is just one of the ways he supports the cancer society.

A perennial volunteer for the Relay for Life, Eames is a fixture in the society’s Topsham office, said Dawn Emery, who’s in charge of the organization’s community fundraising in Cumberland and York counties.

Emery estimated that Eames has helped raise more than $100,000 during his 11-year involvement with Relay for Life of Greater Portland, a walk held in South Portland every June.

At the most recent Relay for Life, Eames was recognized with the Sandra C. Labaree Volunteer Values Award, which was given by the cancer society’s New England division to five Mainers this year.

“I equate it to a lifetime achievement award,” he said.

Eames, who started college when he was 16 years old and had a master’s degree in computer science by the time he was 21, has shown unwavering determination in everything he does, according to his father, Stan Eames. His involvement with the cancer society is no different.

“He is so single-minded. Without being in your face, he demands attention,” said Stan Eames, a part-time copy editor for the Kennebec Journal, a newspaper owned by MaineToday Media, which publishes The Portland Press Herald.

Jamie Lockhart, Clayton Eames’ girlfriend, estimated that he puts at least as many hours into volunteering as he does into his regular job as senior programming analyst at Acadia Insurance in Westbrook.

Considering Eames’ ultimate goal, it’s no wonder he feels the need to work so hard.

“My purpose is to end cancer,” he said.


Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: [email protected]