Notes on a golf scorecard as the second half of the year approaches, which means football is on the way …
… This is a story of how bad things indeed happen to good people, but how you may be able to help.
Don Finnegan, the father of now former LSU All-American gymnast Sarah Finnegan, has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. While his condition is dire, the family has set up a GoFundMe page to which people can donate to help defray the costs of some alternative medical treatments the family has turned to since according to them surgery not an option and chemotherapy is not considered effective.
The fundraising goal is $30,000. As of Tuesday, nearly $19,000 was donated in just over two weeks.
“Everyone has been so encouraging and supportive it brings tears to my eyes,” Sarah Finnegan said. “All the love we’ve received from not only close family and friends, but from people who know our family through gymnastics, has really impacted our family in a good way.”
It’s been a tough 2½-year slog for the Finnegans since Don, himself a former All-American wrestler at Iowa State, was first diagnosed with a severe case of pancreatitis in late 2016. He made a remarkable recovery then but in recent months began losing weight and having abdominal pain. That led to a diagnosis of metastasized cancer that spread to his lungs.
“It’s scary and sad, and shocking, too,” Sarah said. “We skipped all the stages and went right to Stage 4. That’s what pancreatic cancer does — you don’t know you have it until it metastasizes.”
It’s easy to say nice things about someone who is sick, but you truly could not meet nicer people than the Finnegans — Don, Linabelle and their four daughters: Sarah, Jennah, Hannah (a former gymnast at Missouri) and Aleah (a member of the U.S. senior national team set to enroll at LSU in 2021).
Through it all, they are doing their best to maintain a positive attitude.
“Everyone says be positive; that it does affect your health,” Sarah said. “That’s why we really appreciate all the love we’re receiving from everyone. It’s just super touching to see how much people care.”
Her father’s illness comes at a pivotal milepost in Sarah Finnegan’s life.
After saying goodbye to gymnastics — her sport since age 3 — Finnegan is moving on to the next. She had surgery earlier in June to remove some bone chips from her ankle, but other than some rehab work, she is counting down the days until she heads off to begin occupational therapy school at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York, just north of New York City.
“I’m definitely looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life,” Sarah said.
Meanwhile, she’s been working some summer gymnastics camps, trying to figure out what to do with all the time she’s now not spending in the gym on the balance beam or spinning around the uneven bars.
“I’m a lone wolf,” she said.
Fortunately for the Finnegans through the support they have received, they have not been alone through this ordeal.
To donate to the Don Finnegan fund, visit www.GoFundMe.com.
… I see where Gov. John Bel Edwards recently hosted LSU’s incoming football recruiting class at the Governor’s Mansion. Big plus for LSU and coach Ed Orgeron, and something likely to please even the most conservative of LSU football fans. But this sure reminds one of Huey Long, who went so far as to have some star LSU football players live with him in the governor’s mansion back in the 1930s.
Obviously that isn’t going to happen now based on stricter NCAA regulations. And while I would not say Edwards is as bombastic an LSU fan as Long or late Gov. John McKeithen, once pictured sitting cross-legged on the sideline during the 1964 LSU-Kentucky game, it is eyebrow-raising stuff for a sitting governor — cross-legged or otherwise.
I’m sure Coach O would like to make the freshman dinner at the governor’s mansion an annual thing. That may depend on the result of this gubernatorial election this fall.
… Now that the College World Series is over and, for a change, the best team won (Vanderbilt), perhaps the NCAA and college baseball can get serious again about righting two of the sports’ biggest wrongs: the 11.7 scholarship limit and the lack of a third paid assistant.
The latter measure was surprisingly shot down this spring by, among others, the Big Ten, whose Michigan Wolverines came within one win of the conference’s first CWS title since 1966. The former has been debated for decades with little success on changing the math.
Clearly more schools than ever are committing resources to college baseball. The sport is a success, drawing TV fans and fans in the stands as evidenced during the long the CWS just completed in Omaha, Nebraska.
I’m not sure where the scholarship number should land, but the number one, as in one more paid assistant, is definitely a move long overdue. Hopefully by the time the 2020 College World Series has ended that will have passed, though considering the way college baseball is treated (let’s not forget the major league draft in the middle of the NCAA tournament), I’m not holding my breath.