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Bellwood community remembering Shura through softball event

Courtesy photo Jason and Kelly Shura are seen here with a photo of their daughters, Libby (left) and Madison.

By John Hartsock

jhartsock@altoonamirror.com

In April 2017, 8-year-old Madison Shura, a second-grader at Myers Elementary School in Bellwood, tragically passed away after waging a courageous battle with a type of aggressive brain cancer known as diffuse instrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG).

The loss was devastating for Madison’s parents, Kelly and Jason, and their younger daughter, Libby. Their agony was also shared by the entire Bellwood community.

Jenn Miller, whose daughter, Callie, is a softball teammate of Libby’s in the Bellwood-Antis Youth Softball League, pointed out just how intense the pain was for anybody who knew the Shura family.

“It hit us all really hard,” Miller said. “A lot of the kids who are now playing in the league knew Libby and love Libby, and they knew Libby’s older sister, Maddie, through Libby. We’re a tight-knit community.”

Just how tight-knit the Bellwood community is will be fully on display next Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20-21, when the first annual Swing for a Cure softball tournament for players ages 10-under in Madison Shura’s honor and memory will be hosted by the Bellwood-Antis Youth Softball League at the Bellwood-Antis High School softball field.

Miller and her husband, Chris, along with Caroline Showalter — who is the Tyrone Area Junior High School head softball coach — have put together the four-team tournament to raise money that will help fund medical research toward finding a cure for DIPG.

Jenn Miller is a coach in the Bellwood Youth Softball League, and Chris Miller serves as the league president.

The Shura family has partnered with a national organization known as the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation to battle the deadly disease.

The ChadTough Foundation was named after Chad Carr, a young Michigan boy and the grandson of former University of Michigan Wolverines football coach Lloyd Carr. Chad contracted DIPG and passed away at the age of 5 in November 2015.

The family of Michael Mosier, another young boy from the Washington, D.C. area who lost his life at the age of 7 to the ravages of DIPG in May 2015, is also part of the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation.

All proceeds from the Bellwood softball tournament – in which funds will be generated through the admission fees provided by the four teams from Bellwood, Patton, Bedford and Moshannon Valley, along with sales of T-shirts, 50-50 raffle tickets, gift baskets, food and drinks, and donations – will go directly to the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation.

Interested donors can access the Bellwood-Antis Youth Softball League through its email address at bellwoodantisyouthsoftball@gmail.com, or by logging on to the league’s Facebook page for further information. A venmo app is also available to download from the Facebook page in order for people to help the cause.

Kelly Shura and her family have been touched by the community support that they’ve received in memory of Madison.

“We’re super honored that the community continues to remember her, and to do things to raise money and awareness of DIPG,” Kelly said. “Libby will be playing in this tournament, and Jason and I will be helping out as volunteers.”

Kelly and Jason Shura have been proactive in responding to their tragedy by helping others. Along with partnering with the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation, the Shuras have set up a webpage entitled Maddie’s Fight Squad in Madison’s memory to keep the public abreast of developments in the battle against DIPG.

Kelly pointed out that there are several ways that funds can help families with a child facing the dreaded diagnosis.

“Funds from the ChadTough Foundation go toward research and resources for treatment, and to help families affected by DIPG figure out what hospitals to go to and what trials are available,” Kelly said.

Donors who enter raffles online to contribute funds for the softball tournament need not be present at the event to win, Miller said.

Showalter is glad to be a part of the event, which will guarantee each team a minimum of five games and will award trophies or medals to the team champion.

“We’re really happy to do it, and we would like to start having it annually,” Showalter said. “We wanted to do something that would give back to the community, and this is a great cause.”

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