Sean Reader’s former chess teammates continue to see him as an inspiration.
“Even though he’s not with us physically, they draw on the energy. They remember the intensity with which he competed,” said Jay Stallings, a former teacher and father to Jackson, a champion chess player and friend of Sean’s.
“He was a really good friend and somebody we all looked up to,” Jackson said.
Reader died five years ago from leukemia at age 12.
Reader had found out about the leukemia diagnosis just before departing with his team for the 2005 Super Nationals in Tennessee. Undaunted, he powered the Meadows Elementary team to a second place finish and then returned home to start his treatment.
“Sean was not only the best player, but he was also the one with most heart,” Stallings said.
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Sean spent the final four months of his life at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. His family says the doctors and nurses at the hospital admired his will to fight and dubbed him a “champion and warrior.”
In Sean’s memory his parents established a scholarship fund in his name.
“The fund has gone on to help a lot of young players, young students in the elementary schools out here in Santa Clarita to participate in chess programs, chess camp, chess tournaments and different activities like that. In addition the fund has brought chess kits to young patients at Children’s Hospital and now at the City of Hope hospital as well,” said Stallings.
This year, in addition to the chess kits, the children at the hospital will receive a stuffed animal and a hat. Stalling says many of the children lose their hair just like Sean did.
“It’s nice for them to have a hat to help maintain their dignity while they’re in the hospital,” Stallings said.
On September 10th, the Sean Reader Annual Birthday Tribute and Fundraiser dinner will be held at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Newhall to raise money for the scholarship fund.
Stalling says people don’t realize how chess is such a great event for kids today.
“It’s something that helps the youth to improve their critical thinking skills. And to learn that they can overcome what seem to be insurmountable odds. They should never quit and you should always keep trying, whether in a chess game or in life. You just keep battling all the way to the very end.
The Sean Reader Memorial Chess Fund hopes to keep enriching the lives of underprivileged children and children battling cancer through the game of chess.
For more information on the Annual Birthday Tribute and Fundraiser click here.