Community rallies around young Shawn

October 02, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - Friends, family and strangers broke into tears and cheers Thursday morning in James Buchanan Middle School's auditorium when Shawn Guyer's parents were presented with a check for $120,426 collected from public donations.

Steve and Penny Guyer and their 13-year-old daughter, Tiffany, of St. Thomas, Pa., cried together and hugged each other on the stage after opening the giant check handed to them by WIKZ-MIX 95 morning radio show co-hosts Rick Alexander and Lisa Harding.

The check was donated on behalf of the Guyers' 5-year-old son, Shawn, who battled leukemia at the age of 2 then contracted a blood infection at the end of July that led to the loss of his arms and legs. He is a patient at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa., where he is undergoing rehabilitation.


"We'll make sure he has everything he needs to lead a normal life," said Penny Guyer, choking back tears.

Last Wednesday, the Chambersburg, Pa., radio station announced a fund-raising campaign for the family, which brought in thousands in monetary donations, gifts and services for Shawn and the family from listeners in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

"This is a tremendous outpouring of emotion. I've never seen anything like it," Harding said.

The radio station broadcast its morning show from 6 to 9 a.m. live from James Buchanan Middle School to present the Guyer family with the check and with a Dodge van equipped with a wheelchair lift.

Throughout the morning broadcast, several students who took up collections on behalf of their school clubs, homerooms and other organizations presented donations to the family.

The Tuscarora School District agreed to the live broadcast from the middle school to show support for the family and for Tiffany, who is an eighth-grade student there.

"What an opportunity for the students to see such an outpouring of community support," said Superintendent Ted Rabold.

Family members took up the first three center rows in the auditorium, lined with cards. The public and the middle school staff and students watched the check presentation. Members of the crowd rose to their feet and broke into cheers and thunderous applause after the Guyers opened the check.

"I'm shocked. Stunned. I never expected it to be that much," said Penny Guyer, taking a break outside after the emotional broadcast.

Donations are still coming into the radio station and a bank account set up for Shawn has reached about $57,000. Several local organizations continue to hold fund-raising dinners, bake sales, car washes and other events.

"I'm numb," said Lyndall Weller, Shawn's paternal grandmother. "We knew the donations have been generous, but we had no idea it would be this much. It's just unbelievable."

Most of Shawn's medical expenses are covered, but the donations will be used to make the family's bi-level home handicap-accessible, including installing an elevator and building ramps.

The money also will be used to purchase special computers, toys and other items needed to make his life as normal as possible, she said.

Shawn is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Oct. 15, but will continue to receive physical therapy.

After the radio show, family members said they were going back to the hospital to be with Shawn.

"When I get there I'm going to tell him `everybody loves you' and that I'm hoping he'll get home soon to play again," said his sister, Tiffany.

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