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Community steps up to help Portland youth basketball coach

A GoFundMe to raise money for the medical costs of Earl Chaney has raised more than $20,000

PORTLAND, Ore. — Inside the gym at the Matt Dishman Community Center, the biddy basketball team is on the floor. On this day, nearly two dozen young players are all under the watchful eyes of Earl Chaney, the man they all call "Coach Earl."

“Coach Earl is awesome, just really love the community — it's really fun to be here and play,” said Jackson Walstatter, one of Chaney's players.

Chaney has been coaching youth basketball in Portland for 40 years. Some of the players have gone on to play college ball and even to the NBA. But he doesn't like to talk about who he's coached or his success. His focus is different.

“Just to see the joy of the kids, and the joy on their faces,” said Chaney.

He grew up in this neighborhood, played here as a youngster — and he's devoted his life to the game.

“He commands so much respect from the kids. So good with them ... a very, very kind man,” said Adam Bertapelle, the parent of one of the kids in the class.

A couple of weeks ago Chaney had a heart attack. He's back at coaching already, but he's been through two hospital stays, missed time at work and the hospital bills threaten to become overwhelming.

Meghan Walstatter started a GoFundMe page to help the man who has given so much to her family and others in Portland.

“He's part of our family,” said Walstatter. “Jackson calls him 'grandpa.' He's in our tribe.”

So how is coach Earl doing?

With a bit of a smile he said, “I'm doing just fine, thanks for asking.”

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe page in support of Coach Earl, you can find it here.