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Father honors son after death

Community: Local man gives gifts to cancer patients

Posted: October 3, 2010 9:58 p.m.
Updated: October 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

The father of a young local chess champ struck down by leukemia four years ago is expected to visit young hospitalized cancer patients in the next couple of weeks, presenting them with magnetic chessboards as gifts.

Chan Reader is using the money raised in honor of his son Sean Christian Reader to brighten the hospital stays of youngsters struggling with cancer, as his son had done four years ago.

Sean Christian Reader, leader of the Meadows Elementary Chess Team, was 12 years old when he died Aug. 14, 2006.
Sean was remembered at a recent honorary dinner and auction that raised more than $12,000, part of which will buy 400 magnetic chess boards.

Many of his fellow team members were among the more than 100 people who took part in the 4th annual Sean’s Fund Dinner Celebration, Raffle & Silent Auction at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Valley Street in Newhall.
They raised money for Sean’s Fund but, specifically, to fill blue tote bags with magnetic chessboards.

Coach Jay Stallings, director of the California Youth Chess League, based in Valencia, coordinated the Sept. 25 event with his wife, Michel. Their friend Paula Cardey decorated the entire hall with balloons denoting the colors of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“This exceeds my wildest expectations,” Chan Reader said as he looked around the room at hundreds of blue and white balloons.

Sean Reader had two undeniable loves, he said: chess and the Dodgers.

“It worked out nicely. Sean was such a huge chess fan but also a huge Dodger fan. We have more people here tonight so we’re already reaching more people than we did last year and that’s great.”

After dinner and dessert, people bid on a variety of chess and baseball items offered for silent auction, including bobblehead dolls of Dodger players, baseball memorabilia, autographed baseball items, chess clocks and an assortment of chess boards.

Sean Reader was born in Santa Monica on Sept. 18, 1993.

When he attended first grade at Meadows Elementary, he was excited at the chance to join the chess team there.

Three years later, he won the title of Southern California State Third Grade Champion. And he didn’t stop there.
In 2005, he became the Western States Sixth Grade Champion — ranked in the national top 100 and ranked in the top 3 among Southern Californian chess players his age.

Then, according to the account printed in Saturday’s program:

“Just days after being diagnosed with leukemia, Sean boarded a plane with his team to head for the 2005 SuperNationals in Nashville, Tennessee.

“There, Sean put his illness out of his mind and played the best chess of his life. He finished with five wins and only two losses against the best elementary school players in the United States, leading his team to a tie for second place nationally.

“Sean helped us realize that the time to be brave was when the odds were stacked against you.”

Anyone wishing to learn more about Sean’s Fund, chess or the California Youth Chess League can contact Jay Stallings at www.cycl.org.

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