Wareham bikers ride to raise money for ALS treatment

Sep 20, 2022

Those driving around Wareham on Sunday, Sept. 18, might have had to pull over to make way for around 70 bikers driving through the streets.

The riders were revving their engines for Wareham resident Donnie Lovell, who was recently diagnosed with ALS after battling a variety of health issues.

They started their ride at the Middleboro VFW and roared into the Wareham Elks Club on Cranberry Highway by 1 p.m. for food, games and raffle prizes.

The event was organized by Lovell’s sister and mother to help raise money for his treatment. The motorcycle ride is of special significance to Lovell, who was once an avid biker himself.

His aunt, Punky Lovell, said that she can remember Lovell at three years old wanting to ride bikes, and he was messing around on dirt bikes as soon as he was able.

Since then, Lovell became known in his community 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.

Punky says that this is all especially sad for him, because Lovell would have loved to be out there riding with his friends.

Since 2019, he’s been battling a variety of health issues that have left him largely paralyzed.

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 received a diagnosis of Lyme disease and was sent to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. 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,” his sister, Rosario said.

Lovell recently went back to the clinic in Miami for further treatment, but the cost wasn’t covered by insurance. After factoring in the cost of flights, accommodations and food, the family said his treatment will cost at least $100,000.

Sunday’s event was ticketed for riders and guests who just wanted to show up for food, games, and raffle prizes at the Elk’s Club.

“It’s overwhelming,” Rosario said. “I’m just overwhelmed.”

To learn more or to donate to Lovell’s cause, visit the Facebook group in support of Donnie or the GoFundMe fundraising page.

“I will beat this,” wrote Lovell on his GoFundMe.