Throughout my collegiate experience, I have had the honor of being awarded numerous athletic and academic scholarships. Over the years, I have represented my athletic department and university in several banquets, retreats and conferences. On the field of competition, I stood as conference champion; however, in retrospect, as I slowly and tentatively exit college, I look back and recognize that my greatest achievement and contribution can be recognized in a single event.

In 2009, my teammate, roommate and best friend, Mike McGraw, and I created The Shaymus Relays. Shaymus Guinn is the nine year-old son of Tony Guinn, Western Illinois Women’s soccer coach. It was early 2009 when Shaymus was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. His treatments have taken place far away from the university, and consequently, his family has spent quite a bit getting to and from the treatment center. Shaymus’ treatments are still occurring and he is still fighting for his life. The goal of our pseudo track meet is to raise community awareness, support and funds for a very deserving family in order to help offset the increasing expenses.

With full support from the Western Illinois University track team, athletic department and SAAC, this event was very successful. 2009’s Shaymus Relays raised $11,000, while this year’s event raised $12,000. What was even more astounding was the number of participants that attended the event. The evening consisted of track and field activities for 1st through 6th graders, as well as a pair of events for the students of Western. Hundreds of people came out to participate in the event which lasted nearly four hours. Macomb, the hometown of Western Illinois University, should take great pride in supporting an event that inspires an entire community to surround a local family.

Shaymus’s father, Tony, commented from last year, “When you think about priorities in life, this was an event that I think the students will be happy they were a part of. There are always other things that need to be done, but it’s events like these that are life changing,” said Tony Guinn, Shaymus’ father, “Macomb is a little area with a big heart.” As an English major, I find myself using an abundance of quotes. I believe that if you’re not elegant enough to find the right words, you can be smart enough to find someone who has. With that, one of my favorite passages that I reference frequently comes from Henry Ford. He said, "To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success.” This measure of success holds individuals to a high standard. As a student-athlete, one who has had the advantage of growing up with a caring family and being surrounded by incomparable friends, I admit that I still have much work to do. It is my belief that student-athletes are in a unique and ideal situation to help others. They have the skills and characteristics to make great things happen. Most importantly, the student-athletes who I have had the pleasure of knowing acquire an unparallel passion for anything they commit themselves to. It is here that I encourage others to create their own stories of success. I would also like to invite student-athletes to reply and share their similar experiences.

If you have any questions about The Shaymus Relays please email us at  

6/27/2010 13:15:04

The Shaymus Relays are a testament to you, Mike, the WIU's Track and Field Team in your commitment to the total University program and to the individuals within the school family.

6/28/2010 09:49:11

Eric and Mike dedicated hours and hours in preparing for the Shaymus Relays. Their passion for this event not only spread throughout the WIU athletes, but also the university and community at large. The energy at Shaymus Relays was amazing, second to none. Having the privilege of being apart of something at this magnitude is an incredible feeling. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shaymus and his family; Shaymus is a fighter and will come out on top. Again, thank you, Eric and Mike; you two are amazing individuals! We are all looking forward to many more Shaymus Relays to come!

6/28/2010 09:58:31

What an inspiring post. Great to see young people giving back to others as servant-leaders. You are right, athletes have the potential to make incredible contributions to better the world when they realize their accomplishments are not just their own but also come from many people, known and unknown, that have supported them. Keep giving of yourself and inspiring others to do the same.

6/28/2010 18:55:59

Eric and Mike worked so hard on this whole project and their work clearly paid off as the Shaymus Relays was once again a successful event at WIU this past school year. The kids track events and the pancake relay's were a lot of fun. The whole track team at WIU did a great job in supporting Eric and Mike with this event. It's great seeing people around campus wearing the green Shaymus shirts, it just shows how much support is going out to Shaymus and his family.

6/28/2010 22:40:40

The Shaymus Relays was such a great event to be a part of. It really opened my eyes as well as many others, to how important it is to come together as a community to help people in need. It made my experience as a student athlete much more special and worth while. If it weren't for Mike and Eric's hard work the event would not have been nearly as successful. This event is extremely special at Western and will continue to help Shaymus and kids just like him for generations to come. Great job guys

5/4/2012 19:12:08

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10/9/2012 07:30:31

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7/22/2013 05:32:47

This is one of the many examples that are out there that utilizes sports as the means to create awareness and to raise funds to help a deserving family to fight the cost of treatment and bring their loved ones back to normal life. The success points to the fact that there are humans who still care for others.


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