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Mention the name Dave Dravecky and a horrific scene comes to mind.

It's Dravecky, then a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, rolling on the mound in agony after breaking his cancer-weakened left pitching arm during a game in Montreal nearly 13 years ago.

"I can see it as if it was yesterday," said Sue Lucas. "I remember it all very well."

Lucas and the Billings Christian School will be bringing Dravecky to Billings on Monday for a fund-raising banquet and auction at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana Convention Center. The activities will begin at 6 p.m.

The 46-year-old Dravecky never pitched again after that August 1989 injury and had his left arm amputated two years later.

"I'd have to say that after watching his video and reading his book, he touches the heart," said Lucas. "He gives cancer patients hope. His faith is unbelievable. His faith has gotten him through some very difficult times."

Tables to sit 650 people have already been sold, and tickets will not be available at the door. For seating information, call 656-9484.

All proceeds from the evening will go toward the school's gymnasium fund, said Lucas, who is coordinating the event. Dravecky has contributed an autographed book and baseball to the silent auction.

Dravecky

Through fund-raising activities, grants and endowments, Billings Christian School is looking to build a gym for its athletic teams and physical education classes, Lucas said.

Dravecky, who will be making his first visit to Billings, said he realizes that the footage of his arm snapping as he fired a fastball will follow him forever.

"It doesn't surprise me. It doesn't bother me in the least bit," he said of the indelible images and attention associated with his disability. "It's part of my presentation, along with the things that I have learned as a result of that."

He will be introduced to the audience by Gov. Judy Martz.

Dravecky has written a couple books - "Comeback" and "When You Can't Comeback" - and, along with wife Jan, has established Dave Dravecky's Outreach of Hope.

"Dave has such a broad audience of followers," said Lucas. "He has such inspirational stories to tell."

Dravecky, through his Outreach of Hope, is looking to provide encouragement to people whose lives have been devastated by cancer, depression and other adversities.

"He instills hope in people who have felt hopeless," said Lucas.

His message Monday night will be motivational, inspirational and evangelical.

"The most important thing was my relationship with God," Dravecky said of his own struggles. "That gave me hope, whether I lived or died of cancer."

Dravecky, who now lives in Colorado Springs, Colo., pitched for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants in a big-league career that spanned 1982-1989. A former All-Star, he compiled a 64-57 record in the major leagues, pitching in the World Series with the Padres in 1984 and in the National League Championship Series with the Giants in 1987.

In October 1991, 46,740 fans paid tribute to him on Dave Dravecky Day at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

He will be coming from an engagement in Birmingham, Ala., to speak in Billings, Lucas said. Dravecky is scheduled to talk at Foothills Community Christian School in Great Falls on Tuesday night.

"My health is very good," said Dravecky, who does around 30 speaking appearances a year. "Things are going extremely well."

After being sidelined by a cancerous tumor in his pitching arm, Dravecky recovered to pitch again. On Aug. 10, 1989, Dravecky, pitching for the Giants, won his first major league game in making a comeback from cancer surgery.

He is probably best remembered, however, for the game five days later in Montreal when he broke his arm while pitching against the Expos. A deafening crack was heard throughout the stadium and Dravecky fell to the mound in pain.

Two months after he broke his arm in Montreal, Dravecky broke his arm again while celebrating the Giants' National League Championship Series victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The cancer had returned, and Dravecky retired from professional baseball in November 1989.

Additional surgeries and recurring cancer eventually led to the amputation of Dravecky's left arm, shoulder blade and left side of his collarbone.

In the midst of it all, Dravecky said he combated fear and depression.

"After losing my left arm, I also experienced an identity crisis," he said. "I asked a lot of questions: 'If I can't be a baseball player who am I?' That was a big part of my journey."

He said he made it to where he is today through determination and strong religious faith.

In his books, Dravecky also looks on the bright side in writing about all he learned from other people battling cancer and all the love and support he received from them during his trying moments.

"If I'd have continued as a ballplayer and missed that, now that would have been a tragedy," he said.

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