Recap: #ShaneStrong campaign inspires Kean student athletes

FullSizeRender(2).jpgBaseball team celebrates win over Spring break using #ShaneStrong via Kean Baseball

By Angel Ospina | Published March 31

An adult being told they have cancer is tough because they know the fight that lies ahead. A child does not know the fight, a child doesn’t understand why they feel sick, or why they must spend the upcoming months in a hospital.

The student athletes of Kean and the entire community has gathered behind alumnus and
former member of the Kean baseball team, Mike O’Donell and his battle-tested Shane, when he was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma.

Throughout the internet, the Kean communityhas used the hashtag #ShaneStrong relentlessly. The hashtag has taken on a meaning of fight, perseverance, but most importantly team unity. The hashtag indicating that Shane will not be facing cancer alone but instead with an entire university behind him.

“The entire Kean community is just one big family,” said Frank Dente, a sophomore Pitcher for Kean’s baseball team. “That’s what we say when we break our huddles is ‘family,’ so to see a part of the family who was going through such hard times, but being able to be so strong through it was just a really great moment.”

The baseball team held a welcome home rally the game against The College at Brockport on a beautiful Sunday afternoon on February 21. Kean’s baseball team was not the only squad to rally behind Shane. The entire Kean athletics department showed that it was behind the young inspiration by making a heart-felt video called ‘Keep Fighting Shane,’ which let the O’Donell family know that Kean as a whole, is there for them.

Shane needed that strength as he recently finished his first round of chemotherapy about a month ago, but still faces a long battle ahead and many people have decided they want to do what they can in order to help.

“If Shane can wake up every day, do his treatments and fight, then why can’t we play
as hard as we can for something that we take for granted,” said Kean baseball’s senior catcher James Lyczkowski.

Kean’s teams have taken that inspiration and translated it to their performances on the field. Programs are captioning their signature wins with a dedication to Shane by using the hashtag after a team win. Some student-athletes are even wearing Shane on their wrist as, the university is selling “ShaneStrong” bracelets. All proceeds from the bracelets are going to the O’Donell family. The students have rallied around the toddler by purchasing bracelets and wearing them while they take the field.

“It inspired us because seeing such a young kid fight cancer the way he is, is remarkable”
said Scotty Royster from Kean’s Men Lacrosse Team. “His problem has shown us that any of our problems are minor compared to him, if a little kid can get through cancer, us as a team can get through anything.”

The family has set up a GoFundMe account called BabyShanesBattle, which has raised over
$90,000 in a little more than a month.

Shane’s fight is far from over but the attention #ShaneStrong has gotten over the past month has shown that Shane isn’t fighting this alone.

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