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Melissa McElvain (courtesy photo)

ALS Association Hires San Diego Native Melissa McElvain, Former USD Softball Coach, Kidney Donor, in Fundraising Role

San Diego CA— The ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter has hired San Diego native Melissa McElvain to the newly created position of associate director of development and donor engagement.

McElvain will play an integral role in advancing the mission of the ALS Association by developing non-event-related donor strategies and increasing fundraising opportunities, along with corporate sponsorships and planned giving, according to Steve Becvar, executive director, ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter.

“Melissa’s addition to our staff is another outstanding next step for our chapter, we’ve added a rock star to our incredible team,” said Becvar. “Our case load serving our ALS patients and families has expanded significantly because of increased our public outreach and awareness efforts, plus we’re receiving more referrals as people learn about the resources we’re ready to provide.

“Melissa’s contribution to development efforts will play an integral role and help us provide expanded access to services and resources that enhance quality of life, care and support. Our ALS patients, families and constituents will immediately feel Melissa’s passion for the ALS mission. We are thrilled to have Melissa lead us in this exciting next stage of the chapter’s growth.”

McElvain previously spent the past 18 years (2001-2019) as head softball coach at the University of San Diego (USD). With more than 300 game victories, she owns the all-time record for most wins in the history of the USD softball program, which began in 1980.

McElvain graduated from Patrick Henry High School (class of 1995) and then attended the Oklahoma State University (OSU) on a softball scholarship. McElvain played on the OSU Cowgirls squad when the team played in the 1998 Women’s College World Series, finishing third.

She returned to USD to work as assistant sports information director for a year before leading the school’s softball program.

McElvain said, “I am honored to have the opportunity to utilize my leadership and management skills, as well as my passion to serve people and our San Diego community in a mutually beneficial complementary and comprehensive fundraising effort. I look forward to working with our passionate staff members who give selflessly of their knowledge, talents and time in service to our clients. I believe the chapter is poised to build on a tremendous momentum and I look forward to taking us to the next level and making a positive difference.”

McElvain also is a living donor advocate. In 2013, McElvain’s friend Dana Findley was suffering from focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSG), which causes scar tissue to form on the kidneys. With the waitlist being up to six years and Findley’s condition worsening, McElvain offered to donate one of her kidneys.

In 2015, McElvain became one of five founding members of Women Encouraging Living Donation (WELD), a group dedicated to increase, encourage and support living donation through public outreach.

In 2016, she was recognized with the Sharp Memorial Hospital’s “Partner of Hope” award. The award recognizes someone in the San Diego community who is carrying the torch for living donation, and is going above and beyond to support others who are considering saving a life.

In 2018, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) honored McElvain with its Humanitarian Award in recognition of her continued work in raising awareness for living donation. NFCA said McElvain had participated in more than 50 speaking engagements about living organ donation over a five-year span.

McElvain resides in San Diego’s San Carlos community with her husband Ryan and two daughters, Mia, 14, and Kamryn, 12.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease. is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in people living with ALS weakens muscles and impacts physical function. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which usually leads to total paralysis. Life expectancy for a person with ALS is within two to five years of diagnosis of initial symptoms. There is no cure, cause or no life-prolonging treatments for the disease.

The ALS Association is the only national not-for-profit voluntary health organization dedicated solely to fighting against ALS on every front through research, public policy and care services. It is the largest private funder of ALS research in the world. The Association funds global research collaborations, provides assistance for people with ALS and their families through its nationwide network of chapters and certified clinical care centers, and advocates for better public policies for people with ALS. The mission of the ALS Association is to find a cure for and improve the lives of people living with ALS. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, the ALS Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while urgently searching for new treatments and a cure.

The Greater San Diego Chapter, chartered in February 2013, is one of 39 chapters nationwide. The San Diego chapter works closely with the ALS San Diego Clinic at the University of California San Diego, which has been certified as a Center of Excellence by the national ALS organization. At its San Diego offices, the local chapter also showcases an ALS bedroom and bathroom that is equipped with features and benefits that would be helpful to people with ALS. For more information about the ALS Association Greater San Diego Chapter, visit www.alsasd.org.