With nearly 650 people participating and more than $25,000 raised for research, last Sunday's Eighth Annual Walk for Shea was a huge success. Shea, 9 1/2, is the youngest of Megan and Larry Megale's three children and a fourth-grader at Virginia Run Elementary.
SHE ALSO has SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), a rare, incurable form of muscular dystrophy, and the annual walk in her name through her Virginia Run community goes toward finding a cure.
This year, Shea led the way along with her companion dog, a black Labrador named Mercer. "He loved it," she said. "He got a kick out of it." Walk coordinator Mo Nieves was delighted with the turnout, and so was Shea. "It's amazing how many people showed up," she said.
Participants included the Westfield High girls lacrosse team — her sister Kelley, 15, is a member — and the Centreville High boys lacrosse team, which is coached by Shea's dad Larry.
A contingent from Canine Companions for Independence, which trained Mercer, also took part — as did some 30-40 other skilled, companion dogs and their owners. And Kelley made 600 yellow ribbons and passed them out to participants, in support of U.S. troops.
Nieves said Tuesday that matching donations are still coming in, so she didn't have a final total, yet, of how much the event raised. But she said the amount collected so far includes an anonymous donation of $10,000. "Wow, that's very exciting," exclaimed Shea when she heard the news.
Her whole family, including her parents, sister and brother Matthew, 14, an eighth-grader at Stone Middle School, did the walk. And, said Shea, "I had a great time; I had a blast."
To contribute further toward the cause, donations may be made to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, P.O. Box 196, Libertyville, Ill. 60048.