'Hard to watch' ... Stewart, Harbour View family struggle with Shelton's ALS
Luton Shelton joined Harbour View Football Club in 1998 at the age of 12, and it was at 'Compound' where he developed the knack of scoring goals.
Shelton scored 44 times for the Stars of East in his first stint as a senior player between 2003 and 2006, and according to chairman of the club Carvel Stewart, the lasting impact he has left at the club is making it extremely difficult to watch him go through the debilitating Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease.
Stewart said that the experience cuts deeper because it is the second time that the Harbour View family is watching one of their sons wither away by the wasting illness.
"We have had him with us from he was 12 years old, and so he grew up with us, so it is difficult to see him in this situation. It has been even more painful because it is dÈj‡ vu because we saw it with Cobra, (Barrington Gaynor), and now we are seeing it with him (Shelton)," Stewart said.
Gaynor, who played for Harbour View between 1983 and 1988 and coached the senior team in 2001, was diagnosed with ALS in January 2008. He died in March 2011 while undergoing treatment in Westchester Medical Centre in New York.
"We are hopeful that something can be done to ease the pain. I know they haven't found a cure for it, but they have been attempting some treatments to see if they could reduce some of the symptoms, particularly to regain some of his muscular control so that he could actually walk better and talk better," Stewart said.
In an attempt to ease Shelton's pain, the Harbour View family has launched a fundraising effort to gather money to help finance Shelton's treatment.
"We are in the process of setting up an account, and we are asking the public to give what they can because the treatment is expensive, and it has depleted his finances significantly," Stewart said.
The details of the account will be made available as soon as possible.
Stewart said that the Harbour View family stands ready to help Shelton endure a disease that history says will debilitate his body quickly over the next three to five years.
"We have started some visits already - getting players who played with him to visit him," he said. "He has left the island today (yesterday) for treatment, and when he comes back, we are going to arrange for some of the current players to visit him to keep his morale up."
Sports Minister Olivia Grange has committed $5 million towards Shelton's medical bills while the Jamaica Football Federation is also expected to offer support.