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Memorial honors champion spirit

Community: Family, friends turn out to support memory of 12-year-old Sean Reader, help out charity

Posted: September 14, 2011 9:46 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2011 9:46 p.m.

About 150 people turned out to support the memory of Santa Clarita Valley’s young chess champion, Sean Reader, and to contribute to a fund set up in his name.

Sean Christian Reader, leader of the Meadows Elementary chess team, was 12 years old when he died Aug. 14, 2006.

On Saturday, he was remembered at an honorary dinner and auction that raised money earmarked for chess scholarships and to buy magnetic chessboards for young cancer patients in hospitals.

The fifth annual fundraiser featured a raffle and silent auction at the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Valley Street in Newhall. Money was earmarked for Sean’s Fund.

“Sean’s Fund is something that helps us to make a difference in all our kids’ lives,” said the boy’s coach, Jay Stallings, director of the California Youth Chess League based in Valencia.

“Whether it’s financial aid allowing a kid to do to a chess class or bringing a chess kit to a kid in the hospital, as we talk to kids we see it in their eyes.”

On each fundraising table was a blue tote bag — the color denoting the team colors of Sean’s favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers — containing items intended for each young cancer patient in hospital — including a magnetic chessboard.

Those bats are delivered to hospitalized youngsters, Stallings told the group.

Sean’s Fund has grown over the past five years.

“It started off simple,” Stallings said. “And we didn’t know what it would become. And here it is five years later and it’s really, really great.”

Sean’s father, Chan, was disheartened last month after thieves looted his son’s gravesite.

Three times in one month, thieves stole the brass vase from Sean’s headstone at Eternal Valley Memorial Park & Mortuary in Newhall.

On Saturday, Chan Reader said cemetery owners have since addressed the problem.

His heart lifted significantly, he said Saturday, seeing the support for the fund set up in his son’s memory.

In 2005, Sean Reader became the Western States Sixth Grade Champion — ranked in the national top 100 and in the top three among Southern Californian chess players his age.


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