Baseball alum uses experience to lend a hand

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KINGSTON, R.I. – Aug. 6, 2010 – Roughly one in every 25,000 men play professional baseball. About four in every 25,000 children are stricken with childhood leukemia.

Former University of Rhode Island baseball player Dan Rhault has experienced both. He is using his baseball experience to help people in both areas.

Rhault – who was the Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 2009 – was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays and played last summer for their Single A farm club, the Princeton Rays.

Though Rhault was released before the start of this season, the Rays reached out to him to serve as the spokesperson for a fundraiser for the Jonathan Powell Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting childhood cancer. Ticket proceeds for Sunday’s game at Hunnicutt Stadium in West Virginia, where Rhault started at shortstop for Princeton last season, will go to the Hope Foundation.

“The Rays didn’t know last year what I had gone through as a child,” said Rhault, a Lincoln native. “The general manager (Jim Holland) gave me a ring a month before spring training and asked me to be a part of the fundraiser. I struggled with cancer when I was younger, but I was able to overcome it. Maybe my experiences can show kids not to give up.”

Looking back on his childhood, it was a tough road for Rhault. Years of regular spinal taps and cancer treatments continue to have a toll on his body today. Long bus rides last summer left his back extra sore, and he tends to tire easier than others, though he never let that stop him.

“My body is healthy, but still not as healthy as most people,” Rhault said. “I get sore easily. People close to me know about it, and more people heard about it because of news stories, but I don’t want sympathy. Even on the days when I was sore, I would just play through it.”

While his playing days are done, Rhault’s baseball days are still going strong. After this weekend’s fundraiser – which has a goal of raising $20,000 – Rhault’s focus will shift back to his new baseball career, one that has him helping young Rhode Islanders achieve their goal of playing professional baseball.

In October, Rhault and several business partners will open the The Show Academy, a year-round program designed to teach players all facets of the game. Located at the Wide World of Indoor Sports Facility in North Smithfield, the academy will get started in October.

“I give the Tampa Bay organization credit,” Rhault said. “They made my career for me. I am passionate about the game, and I am determined to stay in baseball, even if I am not playing professionally.”

“I played at Lincoln High School and then at the state university,” Rhault said. “I understand how difficult it can be to get noticed. But I also know that it is possible.

“A lot of talent falls through the cracks, especially in the northeast. We’re not going to kill kids on costs. We want to showcase the baseball talent in Rhode Island.”

It’s just one of several ways Rhault is using his own experiences to help others achieve their goals.