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Autograph Session Brings Penn State Legends To Fight ALS, Support Tim Shaw

by on April 17, 2015 5:00 AM

"What would you do for your best friend?"

That's a question Penn State alumnus Paul Omekanda asked himself often after his best friend, Tim Shaw, told him he was diagnosed with ALS.

On Saturday afternoon, Omekanda will answer that question when his foundation -- Best Man Tim -- holds an autograph signing event to raise money for ALS research and awareness.

The Best Man Tim Tailgate will feature eight Penn State legends at the Family Clothesline store, including Jordan Hill, Jay Paterno, Lydell Sargeant, Kelly Mazzante, Miles Dieffenbach, Derrick Williams, Stefen Wisniewski, and Shaw. 

Shaw and Omekanda were both student-athletes at Penn State, and became best friends during their time at the university nearly a decade ago. Shaw was part of an all-time best linebacker corps alongside Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor. Omekanda was a standout soccer defender. 

When Shaw told his best friend that he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, before announcing it to the public in August, Omekanda knew he had to help.

"I began to think about creating Best Man Tim. It's to honor him. There is a fierce need for funding for ALS research," Omekanda says. "There is a serious need to raise awareness about ALS. So I think that honoring Tim and fighting ALS is an obligation, something we should all be a part of. What would you do for your best friend? You would get in the game and begin to fight alongside him."

The foundation's name sounds a bit odd, but it makes perfect sense for the pair of best friends. Omekanda is engaged, and Shaw will be his best man.

"He's my best man, and I hope that he will be able to stand with me on my special day," Omekanda says. "I think that's a hope that's relatable to anyone who fights against ALS, or anyone who has a best friend or cares about anyone."

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Omekanda is extremely thankful of the vast support Best Man Tim has received from the Penn State community. He mentioned athletic director Sandy Barbour, the Paterno family, Hill, Sargeant, and others as integral soldiers in the war against ALS.

"It is the greatest show of support that you can ask for, to have them show up and help to raise awareness and funding, which is what we need," Omekanda says of the eight autograph signers.

Blue-White weekend is a reunion for Shaw and Omekanda, who haven't seen each other since the Ohio State football game in late October. 

"I look forward to seeing Tim come home to what Best Man Tim has been able to generate," Omekanda says. "I really look forward to seeing Penn Staters rally around Tim Shaw."

For those planning to join the fight against ALS with some sharpies, autograph merchandise is limited to one item per customer. The foundation will be selling tee-shirts and accepting donations at the event. The autograph session at the Family Clothesline will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Omekanda urges people to come out and join him in the fight against a horrific disease.

"My greatest joy knowing we're fighting alongside Tim. The more Penn Staters, the merrier," he says. "I look at everything I am doing as my personal contribution to my alma mater. We're family, Tim is family, and I feel that having Best Man Tim active is a great contribution to my alma mater."


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Zach Berger is the managing editor of He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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