SLS clinic benefits youth with cancer

Published Jul 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm (Updated Jul 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm)

Never underestimate the power of the press. Mark Walsh certainly doesn’t.

As the boys’ basketball coach at Seton-La Salle High School, Walsh is accustomed to negative as well as positive publicity.

Recently, however, a local newspaper article touched Walsh deeply. Upon reading the story of a neighborhood youth’s battle with cancer, Walsh decided to use his talents to do his part.

Walsh is conducting a girls’ basketball shooting clinic July 31 and Aug. 2 at Seton-La Salle High School. Grades 4 through 6 meet from 10-11:30 a.m. while grades 7-8 meet 11:30-1 p.m.

“When I read the article in the paper, I realized how lucky my family and I are each and every day,” said Walsh. “This young man’s story is inspirational.”

Despite being diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Zach Dyer battles on. The 11-year-old Whitehall youth recently started his fourth round of chemotherapy.

Walsh’s event is one of many that have arisen to help Zach’s family, which includes his mother, Michelle, and two other siblings, Jordan and Kendra. To date, the community has held large-scale fundraisers at the Brentwood VFW as well as Princess Lanes and Prior’s Tap & Tavern. Plus, there have been the traditional lemonade stands and T-shirt sales in support of the Dyer family.

“These are trying times for the family,” explained Walsh.

Despite the times, Zach maintains an upbeat attitude. In fact, his mantra “I will fight” adorns the lime green and purple bracelets designed for his cause.

“When you think about what he is going through,” said Walsh. “It makes you realize how lucky you are.”

Walsh and his wife, Carrie, have four healthy children, Cole, 11, Emma, 10, and 6-year-old twins, Anna and Brady.

Until April, Zach Dyer was healthy, too.

Assuming he had poison ivy, he told his mother about a rash on his face. Upon further inspection, Michelle discovered a lump on Zach’s neck. Though she works as an emergency medical technician at Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services and works as a patient care technician at UPMC Montefiore Hospital, Michelle was unprepared when tests revealed tumors in Zach’s neck, lungs, spleen and chest. Zach had the type a cancer that spreads between lymph node groups.

While the tumors have been reduced in size, thanks to chemotherapy, Zach has at least three more treatments.

In the meantime, Zach plans to attend Harrison Middle School this fall. Having completed Whitehall Elementary, he will enter sixth grade in September.

For details on the camp, call 412-881-1955 or 412-979-2913.

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