- Associated Press - Thursday, April 9, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Eireann Dolan had no idea she would inspire a movement just by offering her support to the gay community. Specifically to youth who might be struggling with who they are.

She sure is making her mother proud, and her father, too.

The moment Dolan read that the Oakland Athletics will host Pride Night in June to celebrate and host members of the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender communities, she quickly posted word to her 25,000 Twitter followers. She scrolled the A’s feed to find out what people were saying when she saw some negative feedback - including one fan who planned to sit this one out.

Dolan, who dates Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle, supported her mother as she came out when Dolan was a teenager. Her mom, Kathy, and her partner, Elise, are fans of both the A’s and Padres and, by fortunate chance, their opponent for June 17 is San Diego.

Dolan shared the personal story on her blog, “Thank You Based Ball.”

And she went to work setting up a donations page on the website www.gofundme.com to raise money for members of Our Space, an LGBT youth center, to attend Pride Night. She also made a commitment with Doolittle to match up to $3,000 raised.

“I should believe it but every time I see the number go up I go back into shock,” Dolan said this week. “Unbelievable.”

Dolan’s efforts had brought in more than $34,500 as of Wednesday night - far more than her initial $10,000 goal. There even have been donations from former A’s such as Tommy Milone and his wife, and from fans in other cities, such as Detroit and Los Angeles.

“It’s more like all over North America,” Doolittle said.

Dolan also made quite the offer to those fans who didn’t want to attend. Sell her the tickets, she would buy as many of them as she could at face value and donate them to Our Space.

She signed off, “Love, Eireann and my hella gay moms.” While Dolan initially heard from a few fans who were interested, none actually followed through to sell her the tickets with follow-up contact.

“It’s a testament to this fan base the way they vow to support the members of the LGBT community, within this part of the country and within the A’s fan base,” Doolittle said.

“That was really cool to see. The response has been overwhelming. It’s not something that blew up for a couple days. It has continued to carry momentum for a couple weeks now. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. Maybe we underestimated it a little bit.”

Leftover donations not used for ticket purchases will be divided between Our Space, AIDS Project East Bay and Frameline, a distributor of award-winning lesbian and gay films and videos to educational and community groups.

“Every time I see it, I can’t look any more because it makes me want to cry,” she said Wednesday night while watching the A’s at the Coliseum. “We’re used to social media being the worst.”

Our Space refers to itself as “a community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender …. and questioning” and offers a safe space for 14- to 21-year-olds to explore their identities while building a community and developing life and leadership skills and also receiving any mental health care needed.

“This is so humbling and so magical,” Our Space posted on its Facebook page.”

A’s catcher Stephen Vogt appreciates teammates who stand up for something they care about.

“They’re great people, and they’re going to do what they think is best for that night. It’s great to see,” Vogt said. “It’s something that’s considered controversial. It’s not. It’s life.”

Dolan, her mothers, dad Tom, and other members of her family - even her two brothers are planning to come - will sit with those representatives of Our Space at the June game.

“That’s awesome, it really is,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “My daughter was very impressed with it. In our demographic here, in our area, it’s a natural. You don’t even think about those things. For them to step up in the fashion that they did, it shows you what kind of people they are. Typically you hear about people on the field and what they do as players, but certainly in the community he’s been very active since he’s been here. It’s a terrific cause, and we’re all for it.”

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