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McCuen Playing Hard Despite Father's Struggle

October 1, 2012, 10:45 PM by Matt Holsen

McCuen Playing Hard Despite Father's Struggle
HARRISBURG, SD -

The Harrisburg football team is climbing the ranks in class 11A thanks to a big win over Spearfish this past Friday. Senior Quarterback Andrew McCuen was all over the place running for three touchdowns, tossing another and even kicking a field goal in the Tigers victory over the Spartans. While things have been a struggle for the McCuen family off the field lately, Andrew's triumphs on it and around the game of football are inspiring to say the least.

"On the go," that's how his Dad Ron describes him and taking a look at some recent football highlights, he's not far off.

In between all the school work, football practice and games on Friday under the lights, Andrew still finds the time and energy to give back.

"He's loved football since he was born. He's had a football in his hand, ever since he could walk," Andrew's mother Amy said.

So, when a youth flag football team in Harrisburg didn't have a coach, it was Andrew who decided to chip in, much to the delight of his new players. It's not every day you get to play for the town's star quarterback.

"They enjoy having me as their coach because I'm not an old guy but I'm still young and I can still run around with them and play with them," Andrew said.

Watching Andrew succeed here and of course at Tiger Stadium, you'd never know just by looking at him that the high school senior has much more on his plate.

This spring, one of Andrew's biggest fans, his Dad, received some life-altering news.

"April and May I was putting in 60 hour work weeks and kind of noticed that my grip was diminishing. Upon seeing our family doctor, that's when they diagnosed the Lou Gehrig's," Andrew's father Ron said.

In just a few months, Lou Gehrig's or ALS, has already taken a toll. While Ron's nerve cells die, they no longer send messages to his muscles reducing his ability to walk, speak, swallow and even breathe.

"It's been around for a long time and they don't have a whole lot of medication for it, no way to stop it," Ron said.

There's no known cure for ALS and while Ron's disease slowly takes over, his family can't do a lot to help.

"It's been a rough few months right now but we'll make it through it," Andrew said.

Thankfully the start of football season has given the McCuen's an outlet, and a distraction.

"It is fun to watch him, kind of takes my mind off my situation," Ron said.

"He's pretty close to his dad. Just kind of tough on all of us. We just go day by day, appreciate every thing the day brings us and try to get through it. We are so grateful to our community Harrisburg. How many people have stepped up and helped us, it's just awesome what they've done," Amy said.

This past Saturday friends and family held a benefit for Ron in Harrisburg and according to the McCuen's, it was standing room only.

"It's amazing. I call them my God warriors. And how they follow us and the prayers, you can just feel all the prayers they give us," Amy said.

And in part because of Andrew, the McCuen's have an opportunity to thank their neighbors every Friday night.

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