NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The first-ever Western New York Athletics Baseball Day will be raising money for a cause near and dear to many in the local baseball community.

The event is three years in the making and it’s about a lot more than baseball.

All the money raised will go to Depew baseball coach Dennis Crawley, who was diagnosed with ALS in August.

Crawley is the 27th member of his family to be diagnosed with the disease and at age seven he turned to baseball to deal with losing his mother to ALS.

“If it wasn’t for baseball I don’t know what I would do to be honest with you. It’s what keeps me going right now. I always joked, my wife always said I’m gonna die on the diamond I think I’m literally gonna do that cause I’m not giving this up there’s no way,” Crawley said. “I plan on fighting this as much as I can because baseball is everything to me and the community is everything to me.”

16 local high school baseball teams will face off in eight games at Niagara Falls high school on April 30 starting at 10 a.m.

While organizers can’t wait to bring the baseball community together, they said the best part is giving back to Crawley and his family.

“Dennis has worked tirelessly to spread his love of baseball through hundreds of players across the area. Now its time for the Western New York baseball community and the region as a whole to return that favor,” said Frank Wolf from WNY Athletics.

“The thing is you talk Dennis Crawley and there isn’t a person inside the baseball circles that doesn’t know who he is. Doesn’t know what kind of special man that he’s done to help not only himself and his teams but our youth here in Western New York really learn the game of baseball,” said Tom Prince from WNY Athletics.

It costs $5 to get in and all proceeds go to Crawley and his family. There will also be food trucks, vendors, a 50/50 raffle, and a basket raffle.

“The only thing I can really say is thank you for anybody that’s supported us,” Crawley said. “It’s not cheap to fight this battle I’ll tell you that but I’m gonna do it ’till the last breath I have.”

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.