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Community supports McKeown

A benefit to help offset medical costs for former Fort Dale Academy standout Skylar McKeown was held Saturday. Pictured are, from left to right, Skylar McKeown, Brantley McKeown, Cody Casey, Ashlyn McKeown, Dana Casey and Brian Jones. (Advocate Staff/Patty Vaughan)

Dana Casey only gave words of encouragement to her son as she patted his leg at a benefit held in his honor on Saturday.

It was a look of hope and support as her son, Skylar McKeown, faces one of his toughest challenges in his baseball career.

McKeown pitched for Fort Dale Academy through high school, but is now facing a damaged UCL – the ligament near the elbow – which could have inevitably affected his scholarship to attend Central Alabama Community College if it wasn’t for a special procedure.

McKeown has been working through the Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine in Gulf Breeze, Fla., to receive plasma-rich protein injections, or PRP.

To help pay for that procedure, Casey, her family and the community raised approximately $500 by selling barbecue plates, trail rides and concessions on Saturday.

“I just want to get enough money to help pay for medical expenses,” McKeown said.

One man who found out about McKeown’s predicament came to their house to ask about the procedure.

“The community and friends have been gracious,” Casey said. “One man, who doesn’t live far from here, stopped by to ask all about the procedure and wanted to know about the doctor because he has something wrong with his knee. He donated some money, and he wouldn’t take a thing.”

Long hours were spent setting up, and Casey said the effort in the community has been unimaginable.

“The hours of donated time means more than anything really,” Casey said. “People coming together, trying to help and we didn’t even ask for it. I think that’s huge. This community needs things like that.”

McKeown will be moving on to college with his scholarship to work with a specific trainer to help him get back to his starting point, but for Casey, she can only see a silver lining.

“I knew it was discouraging for him,” Casey said. “I wanted him to believe in himself, but it was getting harder for him to do because he couldn’t figure out how to get back on his game. He’s a good kid and if you lose these big opportunities you have dreamed about all your life, it can change your life. I just didn’t want him to give up. He has too many possibilities.”