Guyer family whole again as boy returns

October 26, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - Home from the hospital almost two weeks, 5-year-old Shawn Guyer has already baked a cake, feeds himself, is becoming an expert at computer games and plans to be out with the rest of his friends trick or treating on Halloween.

"It's wonderful. We're finally getting everybody back to a family again, back to a family routine," said Kay Guyer, Shawn's paternal grandmother.

Shawn moved back to his St. Thomas home on Oct. 15 after a 2 1/2 -month stay at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where he battled a blood infection that cost him his arms and legs.


Shawn returns to the hospital for checkups once a week and to be fitted for prosthetics, said Shawn's mother, Penny.

Diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2, Shawn battled the disease into remission.

At the end of July, he was flown to Hershey with a blood infection and all four limbs had to be amputated.

But the 5-year-old has made a remarkable recovery, and family and friends are amazed at Shawn's ability to adjust, though he sometimes tells his parents he misses his arms and legs.

"His attitude has helped us all," his grandmother said. "He's very eager to do things."

Today he starts homebound school, a program set up by Shawn's parents, Steve and Penny, and school officials on Friday. A kindergarten teacher will come to Shawn's home five hours a week in the afternoon, Penny said.

With the help of a cup-like device attached to his shoulder, Shawn is able to use a spoon to feed himself, she said.

When he helped his grandmother bake a cake early last week, an activity the two often did together before Shawn was hospitalized, Kay Guyer measured everything out and Shawn used a spoon to dump the ingredients into the bowl.

After the cake came out of the oven, Shawn iced it by putting a spatula in his mouth and sort of "rubbed it all over the cake," Kay Guyer said.

Shawn recently got an arm prosthesis, but he doesn't like to wear it, Penny said.

"It's heavy and he can't feel things, but hopefully he'll get used to it," she said.

The 5-year-old is getting stronger and is now working on trying to get into a sitting position on his own from the floor, his mother said. He will receive physical therapy at home, she said.

With the cold weather approaching, the Guyers have decided to wait until spring to make their bi-level home handicapped-accessible.

Meanwhile, the local community and out-of-state contributors have pulled together and raised more than $300,000 for the family. One-third of the total was raised through a radio campaign sponsored by WIKZ-MIX 95, a radio station based in Chambersburg, Pa.

The Kluge Foundation of Columbia, Md., created by Metromedia Co. owner and billionaire John Werner Kluge, sent a $25,000 check to the fund two weeks ago.

Church groups, local businesses and other organizations have donated thousands of dollars to the family from chicken and spaghetti dinners, bingo nights, bake sales, golf tournaments, walk-a-thons, car washes and carnivals.

Several car dealerships pulled together to buy a used van with a wheelchair lift for the family.

The Guyers said the money will be used to make the modifications to their home and provide Shawn with what he needs as he grows.

"We're really pleased. The money is great, but we're just happy to have him home," Kay Guyer said.

Checkscan be mailedin care of Shawn's grandfather, William Guyer, to First National Bank of McConnellsburg, Fort Loudon Branch, 130 Mullen St., Fort Loudon, Pa. 17224.

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