Grant / International Project: Meeting – Citizen of the Year Award Presentation
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It was with great honor that our Rotary Club presented the Rotary Citizen of the Year award to Matt Shell.
Matt Shell is well deserving of this award as he is a truly humble and empathetic person who is a tremendous pillar in our community. His family’s strength and perseverance through trying times is remarkable and stands as an example for all to follow.
In November 2005, at the end of the BHBL Spartans High school football season Matt felt tired beyond what he typically experienced at the end of the demanding football season. He was shocked to learn that he had stage 2 squamous cell mouth cancer that required him to undergo surgery to remove a tumor from his tongue and lymph nodes from his neck. Thankfully in May of 2006, he was declared cancer free. He returned to his normal life the next year coaching the football team and raising his family. However, in the spring of 2009, Matt and Kim’s son Jacob was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. He immediately began treatment at the Melodies Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Albany Medical Center. He completed numerous clinical trials and underwent surgeries to remove tumors in his abdomen and 6 rounds of chemotherapy and followed by a stem cell transplant at Boston’s Children’s Hospital. At the beginning of Jacob’s treatment, the Shells were told that there were no guarantees that Jacob would respond to the new treatments, let alone be cured, but in July of 2010 Jacob was declared cancer free.
In May of that year in 2010, the BHBL community honored the Shell family by naming the SHELLSTRONG STROLL for them, which was an all-night walk and celebration of life and community. That event raised thousands of dollars for the Melodies Center, the Shell Family and the Giving Tree at Burnt Hills Ballston Lake High School.
In August of 2011, the Shellstrong Foundation was established as a New York State not-for-profit corporation with the mission “to help kids who need it”. It has flourished as a foundation such that in that in the past 8 years, each year, it has raised over $40,000, whose funds has been used for donations to the Melodies Center, the Double H Ranch, a high school scholarship and local families in need.
Matt graciously accepted the Citizen of the Year Award with his son Jacob in attendance. He said he was honored by the recognition and accepts it on behalf of the Shellstrong Foundation. He and his family are extremely thankful for all the support for the BHBL community.
Matt continues to be a pillar in the community serving as our high school football coach and on the board of the foundation. Jacob is currently in his freshmen year at college and was happy to be home for the holidays. Jacob also serves a Double H Ranch camp counselor.
For more information about the Shellstrong foundation, please visit their website at: www.shellstrongfoundation.org