Over the last 18 months, 4-year-old Sean Ries has endured three brain surgeries that resulted in removing about 80 percent, and he has seen a great deal of community support. According to his mother, Sean's prognosis has been good, but he still has a long fight ahead of him. And the family is committed to doing its part to fight cancer.
"Last year our focus was on simply surviving the nightmare we found ourselves in," his mother, Brenda Ries, told Patch. "This year however, we have been able to shift our focus a little to helping to raise awareness for this deadly disease."
Brenda Ries contacted the Parsippany Hills Little Vikings Football organization, where Sean and his brother Brian Ries play, and asked them to dedicate one of their home games in September to raising awareness for childhood cancer by having players wear gold shoe laces, socks, wristbands on the field "the way so many teams wear pink in October." Not only did the Par-Troy group agree, before long the Morris County Youth Football League, which includes Parsippany and Jefferson, agreed to take part in what's being called a GOLD OUT effort.
As a result, this past weekend 15 of 19 MYCFL towns, including Jefferson Township, wore gold at their flag through 8th grade games to help raise awareness.
All proceeds from all of the GOLD OUT days will go to the MCYFL Charities. Every year, MCYFL Charities distributes thousands of dollars to families in Morris County who are struggling with the economic hardships they have incurred in their fight against pediatric cancer. Last year, they donated $7,000 to the Ries family to help with Sean's medical costs.
"The Morris County Youth Football League developed a wonderful charity program," explained Michael Pietrowicz of Parsippany, Sean's flag football coach. "Donations collected throughout the year by the 23 football organizations plus other fundraising efforts have enabled the league to grant some very special and meaningful cash gifts to people throughout Morris, Warren, Sussex and Somerset counties who in one way or another are connected with the league."
"I couldn't be happier that we are now able to pay forward the generosity that was shown to us last year," said Brenda Ries.
Sean's story is recounted on the TEAM Sean website, which offers updates on his health, how he's doing in school and various fundraising efforts to help the family deal with the high cost of health care.
If you'd like to help, cards, letters, and donations (made out to TEAMSean) can be mailed to: TEAMSean, P.O. Box 41, Mt. Tabor, NJ 07878.