WOONSOCKET -- The Woonsocket community felt a duty to pay it forward.
It received an outpour of support from surrounding towns after three Woonsocket teenagers died in a September car crash. On Thursday, it found a way to give back.
During the Sanborn Central/Woonsocket vs. Corsica-Stickney basketball doubleheader, Woonsocket held a baked potato feed, bake sale and ‘Strikeout Cancer’ halftime game. All proceeds went to Chad Wentland, who is fighting neuroendocrine cancer.
It raised $2,150, which was presented to Wentland and his family between the third and fourth quarters of the boys varsity game. His son, Brendan, is a junior on the Corsica-Stickney boys team.
“It’s definitely overwhelming,” Chad Wentland said. “It’s one of the good things to come from small communities because everybody looks after each other. … I’m overwhelmed they could just throw something together for us out of the blue.”
Wentland, a Corsica native, was first diagnosed three years ago when a tumor was found on his pancreas. In October, it was learned the cancer had metastasized after new tumors were found on his liver and three different bones.
He’s doing treatments and awaiting the next step, but won’t know when his second appointment will be for another month and a half.
“Obviously going through trying times, but with communities like this, it makes it a lot easier,” Wentland said.
As an active board member of the I-90 baseball association and a coach of the Pony Hills Thunder baseball team, Wentland has impacted numerous kids through baseball. The Woonsocket and Artesian-Letcher baseball teams are in the I-90 association and several of their players play on the Thunder.
It made it easy for Steve Larson, whose son, Bryce, played under him, Woonsocket baseball coach Armondo Rodriguez and many others to organize Thursday’s benefit.
“I’ve known Chad for several years, and he’s always been one of those dads that always steps in and helps kids,” Larson said. “He’s always coached baseball down there as long as I’ve known the baseball program.”
The Woonsocket baseball program ran the baked potato feed, but other members of the school wanted to chip in, too.
The National Honor Society and student council arranged a bake sale, selling out of the donated baked goods which filled two eight-foot tables six times. At halftime, kids lined up for three throws into a net from halfcourt to try to win a prize.
“We’ve seen so much support from other communities in our time of need,” Rodriguez said. “When we see someone who needs our help -- or a group that needs our help -- our kids are really, really looking and pushing to help those people.”