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Wyoming's Sean Chambers forms unique bond with young cancer patient
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Wyoming's Sean Chambers forms unique bond with young cancer patient

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LARAMIE — When he’s on the field, Sean Chambers doesn’t think about much other than the task at hand.

The singular focus has largely paid off.

There’s room to improve — Chambers and Wyoming coach Craig Bohl are the first to admit his 38-percent completion rate this season needs to increase — but his unique skill set has still made it hard for opponents to slow him down. With a blend of size and speed that make him as gifted a runner as there is in the Mountain West at his position, the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder has already accounted for 1,696 yards and 17 touchdowns in leading Wyoming to a 7-2 record since taking over as the starting quarterback nine games into last season.

But Chambers isn’t a robot. He’s a son and a brother before he’s a football player, so it’s hard for him not to think about it from time to time, particularly when he glances at his wrist.

Chambers wears a pink wristband that promotes awareness for breast cancer, something his mother, Britteny, was diagnosed with nearly a decade ago. He said he’s also had two other family members succumb to cancer.

“I don’t necessarily think directly about it, but it’s always in the back of my head,” Chambers said. “I’m always thinking about people going through a tough time. It’s definitely in the back of my head and definitely a thought that keeps going around. I don’t forget about it.”

It also makes him think about Meyer Moore, who might as well be family at this point. At 7 years old, Meyer is less than half of Chambers’ age, which makes it even harder for Chambers to fathom what he’s going through even if he has a pretty good idea.

Meyer was diagnosed in June with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that affects white blood cells. According to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer.

“The worst crosses your mind,” Chambers said. “When it’s a kid and it’s that serious, it’s tough, you know?”

Chambers got word of Meyer’s diagnosis just a couple of weeks before returning home to Kerman, California, for a summer break. Having gotten to know Meyer over the years, Chambers had a different singular thought at that point: How’s my friend doing?

“It kind of struck home a little bit,” Chambers said. “I’ve dealt with loved ones that have cancer, and I know it’s no joke.”

***

Meyer is one of two children to Kellee and Tyler Moore, who also live in Fresno County. And their only son loves sports, which is how Meyer initially crossed paths with Chambers.

Chambers also played baseball for Kerman High, and Kellee’s brother, Jay, was his coach. Meyer was a mainstay at Kerman’s baseball games as a bat boy for his uncle’s team. He would even help rake the field after games, including the dirt behind home plate. That was Chambers’ area as the Lions’ catcher, so the two often struck up a conversation.

“Sean’s got the personality that kind of just attracted our son to him,” Tyler said. “He’s just the kind of kid that’s kind of quiet, and our son just took to him.”

But as a three-star quarterback prospect, Chambers’ future was in football. He committed to Rutgers at one point during the recruiting process before ultimately flipping and signing with Wyoming in part because Laramie had the same small-town feel as the one he grew up in in California’s Central Valley.

He left for Wyoming in the summer of 2018, and by the tail end of last season, he was playing as a true freshman. Chambers made his first start against Colorado State and ignited the Cowboys’ dormant offense with 595 total yards and five touchdowns in less than 11 full quarters.

A broken fibula cut his season short, but by the time spring ball rolled around, he had fully healed. Back in central California, Meyer was living the life of a healthy 6-year-old boy.

That changed when Meyer began feeling sick early this summer. Symptoms lingered to the point that Meyer eventually told his parents he wanted to go to the doctor.

“What 6-year-old says they want to go to the doctor?” Tyler said.

Meyer was admitted to Valley Children’s Hospital, a 20-minute drive from the family’s home in Clovis. Doctors there delivered the official diagnosis June 18, and Meyer underwent a round of chemotherapy the next day.

“We were shocked,” Kellee said. “He hadn’t been feeling good for a couple of weeks, and we weren’t quite sure what was wrong.”

Meyer has been in and out of the hospital for treatment since, but with his parents and his sister, Maycee, by his side, he hasn’t fought it alone. And it wasn’t long after he was diagnosed that Meyer received more support from the hometown quarterback who empathized with the family’s situation.

“Knowing what I know about cancer, it’s pretty tough,” Chambers said. “It affects literally everybody in your family, a lot more people than you think.”

***

Chambers got Tyler’s phone number from his high school baseball coach and called to ask if he could pay Meyer a visit once he was out of the hospital and back at home, which was about a half-hour drive from Kerman. The family was moved by the gesture.

“It’s hard to put into words, man,” Tyler said. “To have a kid with that much forethought to come and visit him, he’s a special kid. Regardless of what he does on the football field, that kid, he’s got a special place in our heart. We wish him the best.”

They arranged for Chambers to come to the house with one catch: Nobody would tell Meyer that Chambers was coming, leaving Meyer to a surprise once his friend walked through the door.

“He kind of got shy, but he’s known him for a long time,” Tyler said. “So it didn’t take him long to warm back up to him.”

Chambers signed a football for Meyer as well as an old Kerman High baseball poster. The two took a picture together and even played catch for a few minutes. At that moment, there was nowhere else Chambers wanted to be.

“He had a big, huge smile on his face, which was pretty neat,” Chambers said. “When I was over there, he had all the kids coming over from the neighborhood. So it’s not just me. It’s a lot of people, and it’s really neat to see.

“He’s a little shy of course, but I just wanted to go over there, keep it light, see how he’s doing and just let him know he has support and people there that really care about him.”

Chambers’ mother has been in remission for about five years, he said. Meyer’s fight is just beginning, though there’s optimism that he’ll be able to beat it, too.

According to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, approximately 98 percent of children with ALL go into remission within weeks after beginning treatment while about 90 percent of those children can be cured. Children are considered cured after 10 years in remission, according to the hospital.

Meyer is still undergoing weekly in-patient chemotherapy treatments that keep him at the hospital four to five days at a time. He’s administered fluid to help flush enough of the medicine from his system that he can be released. Meyer’s immune system is too weak for him to travel, but Kellee said he’s progressing to the point that he should be able to return to school in February and then start monthly treatments for the next few years.

“So far, he’s been on track, and (the doctors) are pretty positive,” Tyler said. “With the diagnosis he has, there’s a fairly high success rate. We’re just taking it week by week.”

***

As much as Chambers is rooting for Meyer during his fight, Meyer is doing the same for Chambers every time he takes the field.

Kellee and Tyler have season tickets for Fresno State football games, but Meyer and his family have another team to pull for thanks to Wyoming’s quarterback. The affection for the Cowboys has only grown stronger since Chambers’ father, John, bought Meyer a Wyoming football jersey and gave it to him for his birthday last month.

“He’s been wearing it ever since then,” Kellee said.

That includes every time he watches the Cowboys play, which has become routine at this point. Tyler said it’s usually Meyer reminding his parents what time and on what channel Wyoming is playing each Saturday, not the other way around.

“It means so much to Meyer just to have that support,” Kellee said. “He loves to see Sean on TV.”

And when Meyer is able to travel again, Kellee and Tyler said the family intends to make a trip to Laramie so that Meyer can watch Wyoming in person. The hope is that can happen at some point next season.

In the meantime, Chambers does his best to keep track of his friend back home. Chambers said he hasn’t spoken with Meyer since before fall camp with the season in full swing, but he tries to keep tabs on Meyer through Facebook, where Kellee posts updates regularly on her page.

Kellee and Tyler said they’re hoping to reconnect their son with Chambers in person before next fall. They have plans to travel to Denver in April to visit family, and as long as Meyer is cleared to travel by then, he will join them.

“If we can get up to Wyoming to visit him,” Tyler said, “we’ll certainly do it.”

Chambers said he plans to visit Meyer again the next time he gets back home. He may even treat Meyer to lunch, he said. Chambers just wants to support a friend who’s going through an all-too-familiar battle.

“It means the world to me,” Chambers said. “I somewhat know what he’s going through. If he’s having a down day and I can just lift it up maybe for a little bit, I’ll gladly do that in a heartbeat. It really means a lot to me just trying to help people out. That’s what matters the most.”

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College Sports Reporter

Davis Potter is the University of Wyoming athletics reporter. An Alabama native and 2011 Auburn University graduate, Potter joined the Star-Tribune in 2018 after five years covering Ole Miss and the Southeastern Conference. He lives in Laramie.

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