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Leatherneck Athletes rally to help Shaymus Guinn battle cancer

Young Shaymus Guinn, son of WIU Soccer Coach Tony Guinn, needs your help to battle rare form of cancer / WIU Athletic Department

Helping family in need: The Shaymus Relays

MACOMB, Ill. - The word cancer is a word that has affected nearly everyone in some way or another, whether it be a friend, a family member or a battle you have gone through yourself.

May 1, and months leading up to the date, members of the Western Illinois cross country and track and field teams have organized a way for people to get involved in changing a family TMs life. The Shaymus Relays will begin at 5:30 p.m., Friday, at Hanson Field on the campus of Western Illinois University.

Ewing TMs Sarcoma is a rare form of bone cancer that tragically changed a little boy TMs life in November, 2008. That little boy is Shaymus Guinn, the son of Western Illinois TM women TMs soccer coach Tony Guinn. Shaymus celebrated his ninth birthday in the hospital while fighting for his life. The little boy who wishes he could go out and play, stay in and do art projects or just live a normal little boy TMs life, continues to fight through chemotherapy treatments in hopes of conquering the disease. When the Western Illinois community found out about the Guinns TM heartbreaking news, Macomb proudly came together to find ways to support.

The Western Illinois cross country and track and field teams had a few people actually visit Shaymus when he was in the hospital in Iowa as a stop on their way to a meet. Head cross country coach Matt Morris decided that it would be a good idea to combine ideas to help a fellow colleague with some financial needs that insurance does not cover. He made a suggestion to his team that they do something to help out.

Every year we encourage our kids to get involved with helping the community, Morris said. We participate in activities like Bowl for Kids Sake and Relay for Life, but here is an issue affecting members of our family right here in the department. These people are important to us.

Although the outdoor track and field season is in session, a few student athletes from the men TMs team decided to band together for the cause. Heading up the planning of what is now The Shaymus Relays was junior mid-distance runner Eric Anerino. He teamed with sophomore teammate Mike McGraw to get the support of other members of the team and student athletes from other sports to better a family that continues to look for hope in the suffering.

The kids got together, formed the idea and ran with it, Morris said. Student athletes are constantly encouraged to put their best efforts forward to give back to those who support them. It is easy to get caught up in our own lives, so an event like this helps us to not lose site of the big picture, but rather how we can come together to better other peoples TM lives. We had a lot of great ideas, but how much they have taken the reins and ran with it is really amazing.

The event consists of track and field activities for grades 1st through 6th, including one field event, two running events and one relay. The Breakfast Club Relay and the 4x400 meter relay are events for students of Western Illinois University. The Breakfast Club Relay will consist of each runner eating a stack of pancakes and drinking a glass of milk. After consuming this, they must run one lap before handing off the fork (which will be used as the relay baton) to their next teammate. Each member must complete this same task. The 4x400 Meter Relay is an event in which teams comprise four runners who each complete 400 meters or one lap around the track. The registration fee is $10 for participation and is open until the start of the actual event.

Sophomore distance runner Tyler Buckles created the logo of the dinosaur handing off the baton to the penguin for the Shaymus Relays, which was inspired by the discovery that the penguin and the dinosaur are two of Shaymus TM favorite animals. The logo was placed on hundreds of Orange T-Shirts, which were sold for $10 each and will continue to be sold at the event.

Making other efforts to raise funds, with decorated Shaymus milk jugs, 30 students broke into groups of two or three and spread out over campus for 90 minutes. The students went door-to-door in the residence halls, the apartment complexes and local business in search of any money anyone was willing to give. From pennies to dollars, the students finished the hour and a half with a grand total of $2,200, which has been added to the grand total to date of $8,923.83.

I, like many people have had a family member in a similar situation, and this was a great chance to help out, Anerino said. Our goal is to raise a lot of funds for the Guinn family, but also to raise support. It says a lot that so many people want to come out and participate and really are taking this cause to heart. This event truly embodies the community coming together. The athletics department, the Greek life, Student Government, and various other student organizations are participating. The grade school kids and community members from every corner of Macomb are coming together. I am so excited about this event.

The athletic department has come together to support the cause with athletes from track and field, cross country, football, men TMs basketball and volleyball in participation. The goal is to continue to raise money for the cause, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the Guinn family. Donations can be made with checks payable to The Shaymus Relays until May 15. Please mail all donations to Carla Oliver, 103 Western Hall, Macomb, IL, 61455.

McGraw and Anerino received assistance with The Shaymus Relays from Lisa Melz, Director of Athletics for Academic Services and Carla Oliver, Athletic Administrative Assistant. Access www.wiuathletics.com, the official site of Western Illinois Athletics, for more information, updates, registration forms and T-Shirt order forms.

- western illinois athletics -

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