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Sarkis Heavily Involved in Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis

February 5, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - When Doug Sarkis hears a story like the one authored by the late David Shutek, it gives him considerable hope for his grandson, Anthony. Shutek was a Lansing resident who, like Anthony, suffered from Cystic Fibrosis.

Given little chance to make it to grade school, let alone high school graduation, Shutek battled for 31 years before finally succumbing to the disease in 2008. His fight and memory will be honored May 19 at WesBanco Arena during the annual Great Strides Walk, which Sarkis initiated four years ago.

''I try to honor someone, unfortunately who has passed away, at one of our walks,'' Sarkis said. ''David's family was very agreeable.''

Article Photos

Shutek lived his life as normally as someone with CF possibly can, serving as an inspiration for those in the area, both then and now, who are dealing with the same disease.

Sarkis happily reported that Anthony, now 4, is preparing for preschool and doing as well as can be expected. He still has his daily regime of taking more than 25 pills and, of course, the breathing treatments, but his grandpa says Anthony has a ''through-the-wall'' attitude.

''Right now he looks to be doing pretty decent,'' Sarkis said.

Researchers have yet to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. It's that fact that helps Sarkis keep waging all-out war on a disease he says his grandson doesn't even fully understand.

Through various fundraisers, Sarkis-led initiatives have brought in more than $340,000 for CF research in the last few years. Among the things Sarkis has been involved in are: ''A Night in Key West,'' a one-time event at Generations, as well as the Great Strides Walk and the 65 Roses Sports auction, held annually at Pittsburgh's McFadden's restaurant.

The 65 Roses event is the most lucrative, as the face of it, or maybe 'The Beard,'' in this case, is Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. Keisel is shown in the accompanying photo with Cameron resident Cody Franklin, who has CF.

''I got to meet this family back in December. He was just elated to meet Brett,'' Sarkis said of Franklin. ''The beard thing and the whole deal has really made Brett more known.

''I definitely believe that the public service announcement'' Keisel did to help Cystic Fibrosis ''had a lot to do with it.

''With Brett Keisel, not only has he done a lot in the Pittsburgh area, but his work has bled over into the Ohio Valley.''

People like Sarkis are helping to hopefully win the fight against CF. Ninety cents of every dollar made goes directly to research. That research helped get a new drug called Kalydeco (Kuh-LYE-de-koh) approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Kalydeco is a new oral medication for the treatment of CF and is the first drug available that targets the underlying cause of the disease - a fault gene and its protein product, CFTR. It is for people ages 6 and older with the G551D mutation of CF.

Though Kalydeco won't help Anthony's mutation, Sarkis said its approval, and the hopeful approval of two more drugs currently in front of the FDA, gives everyone hope.

''The other two are going to be pushed more and recognized because of Kalydeco,'' Sarkis said, adding that he's unsure if either of the two would benefit Anthony.

Sarkis said anyone wishing to participate in the Great Strides Walk should contact him at (304) 280-5758.

Reno Will Be Honored

Congratulations to Steubenville football coach Reno Saccoccia who will be in an 11 a.m. ceremony March 12 at the Great Hall of Senator John Heinz History Center and Sports Museum in Pittsburgh.

That ceremony is scheduled to be a part of the 32nd annual Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductions and Recognition Awards Ceremony. Saccoccia is being honored with the 2012 Coaches Ohio Achievement Award for ''leading Steubenville High to years of outstanding success, leadership, fortitude, and determination as a football coach.''

Our Condolences

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register sports staff would like to send out its heartfelt condolences to the family of Dan Hose, who passed away Tuesday night at Charleston Memorial Hospital after a four-year battle with Leukemia.

Hose, a lifetime member of the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, was sports editor of the Parkersburg News in 1953 before serving military duty. When he returned, he started in 1957 on the sports staff of the Charleston Daily Mail and worked there until 1966 when he began the longest tenure for a state wire service sports editor with United Press International.

Hose could be seen annually on press row at the boys' and girls' basketball tournaments in Charleston, where he served many years in a volunteer capacity. He also was a major help at the Victory Awards Dinner, which he attended for 50 years.

A truer gentleman you will never find. And he's a big reason the WVSWA works as well as it does today.

May he rest in peace.

Shawn Rine can be reached via e-mail at

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