BY: SHELBY LOHRMAN
This week I had an experience I will never forget. I was given the opportunity to help teach chess over at the Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena. Have to admit, I was a little hesitant about the experience…am definitely not a fan of hospitals.
When I arrived at Shriner’s, to say I was shocked was an understatement. The children, parents, and staff were all happy and upbeat. Not at all what I was expecting. The kids were nothing short of amazing. To go through the challenges that they are facing would cause even the toughest of us to hesitate a little. But these kids were smiling, upbeat, and so enthusiastic about playing chess and life.
Coach Jay Stallings from Sean’s Fun is spectacular. He taught the lessons in both Spanish and English. Positive, upbeat attitudes kept everything running smoothly. When they got their gift bags it seemed to them like Christmas! The excitement and joy on their faces was a testimony of their gratitude and joy in the face of adversity. Made me step back a little and reflect on the things that I perceived as problems. Suddenly those problems were insignificant and petty.
Turns out I did more learning than teaching, and while I was happy to bring gifts for each child, it was the kids that gave me the real gift.
As we were wrapping up, all my mind could focus on is how to get Coach Jay to invite me back and think what else we could do for those kids. Have a couple of things cooking right now!
About Sean's Fund
Sean's Fund honors the memory of Sean Christian Reader, who lost his valiant battle with leukemia on August 14, 2006. Sean, age 12, was a nationally-ranked chess player and fought his battle with cancer as fiercely as he faced any opponent across the chessboard.
Sean's Fund works with California Youth Chess League (CYCL) to provide financial aid to those who need it to pay for chess classes and tournaments (Financial Assistance request form can be found here). Donate here.