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Penn Staters Support Tim Shaw's ALS Battle at Saturday Event

by on April 19, 2015 6:30 AM

When there's a Penn Stater in need, the community has proven time after time that it will come out in full force to help however it can.

Tim Shaw, a former football player who was diagnosed with ALS, saw that in action on Saturday afternoon. 

The Best Man Tim Foundation, which was created to raise awareness and funding for the debilitating and deadly progressive neurodegenerative disease, held an autograph session at the Family Clothesline store before the Blue-White game.

Among eight signers sitting at a table in the clothing store was Jay Paterno, who was a football coach when Shaw played linebacker at Penn State from 2003 to 2006.

"It was a no brainer [to participate in the event]. One of the things we've always preached at Penn State is that once you're a part of that football family, you're always a part of it," Paterno says. "When family members need help, we help each other. When they asked me to come down, there was no question I would be here."

Paterno says that being philanthropic is an inherent trait of the proverbial Penn Stater, from THON's effort to end pediatric cancer to the community's support of Leah Still, the daughter of football player Devon Still who is battling cancer.

"We rally around each other and that's a hallmark of Penn State," Paterno says. "That's what we're about and that's what we'll always be about."

Shaw was extremely thankful for the support in his fight against ALS. He announced his diagnosis in August and has seen Best Man Tim, which was started by his best friend, strongly backed by Penn Staters.

"The love and support that Penn State shows to its own is really unmatched," Shaw says. "The fact that teammates came out today and people I've never played with or even met before stand up for me just because of my connection to Penn State is an amazing feeling. And the fans always show up. We know that Penn State's fans always show up."

Without a cure for the fatal disease, Shaw stresses how important events like the autograph session are to raise awareness and raise funds for research. 

"It's so important because people that are diagnosed with ALS don't have much hope," he says. "They don't have hope because there's no answer, no solution for what they're going through. The more awareness and money we can raise, the more people that can be helped."

Paul Omekanda named the charity Best Man Tim because he named Shaw his best man at his wedding, which has not yet happened. Omekanda was at the Family Clothesline on Saturday, representing the charity as its founder and Shaw as his best friend.

"To have someone with Paul's ambition, drive, and determination on your side is a great thing," Shaw says. "He's going to push the envelope and make things happen."

Omekanda says that his greatest joy is being able to fight ALS alongside his best friend. He was thrilled with the large turnout from Penn State fans on Saturday, who came out to get autographs from Shaw, Paterno, Lydell Sargeant, Kelly Mazzante, Miles Dieffenbach, Derrick Williams, Stefen Wisniewski, and Jordan Hill.

Paterno says he is happy to see Shaw as he continues to battle ALS. On Saturday, he reminisced on Shaw's time on the Penn State football team nearly a decade ago.

"He was a fierce competitor, a great athlete, and a guy that did whatever he was asked to on this team," Paterno says. "He was a competitor on and off the field, and you see that now."


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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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