The Shoreham-Wading River community is decorated with orange bows — on mailboxes, front doors and in girls’ hair — to support sixth-grader Liam McGuire, who is once again fighting a battle against cancer.
Liam, who will turn 12 in January, was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia just days before his seventh birthday in 2011. After 39 months of chemotherapy, he entered remission for about a year, but the cancer returned this summer.
“As for his status, he is going to be getting a bone marrow transplant, so we really don’t know at this point how that’s going to turn out,” said Staci Naso, a close family friend and an operator of the Friends 4 Liam Facebook page, which posts updates about his status for more than 7,000 people who follow Liam’s condition.
“He’s in the process of all the pre-testing and everything for it,” Ms. Naso said. “At this point it’s kind of just a ‘we won’t really know until it happens’ kind of thing. We’re hoping for the best right now.”
A Dec. 5 post on the Friends 4 Liam Facebook page by his parents, Matt and Sara McGuire, said Liam would receive the upcoming bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
They added that their son is doing well and said “his numbers and tests are very good heading into this procedure.” Unfortunately, the timing of the transplant means Liam and his family will have to spend the holidays in the hospital, Ms. Naso said.
In an effort to help her friends, Ms. Naso has teamed up with numerous people, including middle school orchestra teacher Linda Jutting, to create Lyrics for Liam, a concert fundraising event.
“Five years ago we did a fundraiser for Liam and it was a really big event,” Ms. Naso said. “So this time around I kind of tried to think of something different we could do that would involve the kids in the community and kind of bring everybody together.”
The event will be held at the Shoreham-Wading River High School auditorium on Thursday, Dec. 17, at 6:30 p.m. It will have performances by SWR students, the bluegrass group Buddy Merriam & Back Roads and country band Six Gun, of which Wading River Elementary School music teacher Erin Fasano is a member.
Ms. Naso said all the performers are volunteering their time and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the McGuire family. What touched her most about the event was the number of SWR students who have chosen to participate.
“I think right now we have about 80 or 85 kids that are going to be participating, all volunteering,” she said, adding that it will include students from the bands, orchestras and choruses in the district. “I was shocked to find out the total number of kids, I couldn’t believe how many volunteered to be a part of it. It’s nice.”
Past fundraisers have included the annual Lax Out Cancer lacrosse games and a soccer clinic fundraiser run by Sound Beach Soccer. Additionally, Liam’s aunt established a Gofundme page in September that had raised $28,623 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Tickets for the Lyrics for Liam event are $20 for adults and $15 for children under 16, and can be purchased at the door.
“I think the community does rally to support anybody in need in the community,” Ms. Naso said, adding that both Liam’s parents graduated from SWR in 1993. “I have to tell you, it’s a good community. When we need everybody, they do pull together.”
Top photo: Liam McGuire. (Credit: Facebook)