Family works to raise funds to pay for ALS treatment

Jul 18, 2022

Donnie Lovell is best known as a daredevil who won quad races and once built a bike ramp at the end of the Shangri-La boat ramp so he and friends could ride their bikes off it at high speeds, doing flips into the lake.

But since 2019, he’s been battling a variety of health issues that have left him largely paralyzed, and his family is raising money to help cover the cost of his treatments.

Lovell’s sister Rosario and mother Shari shared his story, as he’s currently receiving promising treatment at a medical facility in Miami.

Lovell spent months seeking a diagnosis for symptoms that began several years ago with difficulty using one of his legs. 

After about a year, he finally received a diagnosis of Lyme disease and was sent to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. From there, he was transferred to a hospital in Boston.

Eventually, he was diagnosed with ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — which breaks down nerve cells and weakens muscles.

Since then, Lovell has also been diagnosed with a number of other viral diseases.

Over the years, his symptoms have worsened. Lovell lost the ability to feed himself, and sometimes struggles to speak.

But after three weeks of treatment at the Body Science Clinic in Miami, he and his family saw real progress.

“He was smiling more,” Rosario said. 

He even took a few steps with a walker while at the clinic.

“He’s a fighter,” said Shari. 

Rosario said that when he was well, he helped anyone who needed it and worked as a union construction worker.

He’s back now for two more weeks of treatment, but the cost isn’t covered by insurance. After factoring in the cost of flights, accommodations and food, the family say his treatment will cost at least $100,000.

To help cover that cost, Lovell has set up a GoFundMe.

At home in Wareham, his mother and sister are working hard to organize a motorcycle ride in his honor along with other fundraisers like a raffle calendar and donation canisters in businesses around town. 

Canisters are located in the Shangri La 7/11, the Liquor Barn, Riverside Cafe and the Wareham House of Pizza, along with other local businesses.

The DFL18 Ride to Recovery will be held on September 18, starting at the VFW Post 2188 at 12 Station St. in Middleboro and end at the Wareham-New Bedford Elks Lodge at 2855 Cranberry Highway. Registration will start at 9:30 with kick-stands up at 11:30.

At the Elks Club, there will be food, games, raffles, corn hole, music and a cash bar for riders and non-riders alike.

Tickets — including food — cost $25 per bike, $10 per passenger and $10 for non-riders, who can meet at the Elks Lodge at noon. Kids under 12 are free.

Rosario is collecting donations for raffles, and said that unused gift cards or other items people might have around their homes would be welcome contributions. She can be reached at 508-922-5250.

Click for a link to the Facebook group in support of Lovell and the GoFundMe page.