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Local BMX community shows support for Harold Sills after cancer diagnosis

Harold Sills 38 Wyatt Sills 9 are pictured their garage Wheatfield Jan. 20. The father sBMX racers have received much

Harold Sills, 38, and Wyatt Sills, 9, are pictured in their garage in Wheatfield on Jan. 20. The father and son BMX racers have received much support from local riders since Harold's cancer diagnosis this fall.

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Updated: February 25, 2013 12:56PM



A recent cancer diagnosis for a single dad in his 30s hit like a ton of bricks. And it’s been an extended “family” of local BMX enthusiasts that’s helped the Wheatfield resident carry that weight.

Harold Sills, 38, was, in a sense, the star of the show at Steel Wheels Indoor BMX in Hobart on Dec. 8. Uncertain of what lay ahead concerning his health, he announced on Internet postings that the double points event interspersed with the day’s Young Guns Shootout would be his retiring race.

The start of each moto was like an opening of the floodgates of support; teams of local BMX racers banded together to donate their winnings to the Faces of Cancer charity. At the end of the event, Mike Geissler, founder of the Northwest Indiana-based charity and team sponsor, presented a check to Sills.

“When you go to the track everybody always comes up and shakes your hand and is giving you hugs and telling you you’re in their prayers,” said Sills, who finished fourth in the 36-40 intermediate class. “It was just pretty sentimental.”

Sills’ 9-year-old son, Wyatt, had inspired him to re-start his BMX kick — a hobby he first explored in the 80s. In the past five years, the father-son duo has worn a path to area tracks and has traveled to distant venues.

“(The second go-around) was pretty neat and I enjoyed it,” said Sills.

This fall Sills went on disability when he started to experience an unusual back pain and was unable to perform his work as a carpenter. His doctors ordered x-rays and MRIs, which eventually revealed a cancerous growth — the rare Cholangiocarcinoma, which had reached stage 4, affecting his liver and lower vertebrae.

With surgery not an option, Sills began regular chemotherapy treatments at St. Anthony Health Cancer Center in Michigan City. Wyatt, a curious and happy-go-lucky kid, wanted to go to the hospital with his dad to show his support.

Harold said Wyatt has been a Godsend, especially since his difficult divorce. Though the boy had been cheerful in his support, the reality of his dad’s diagnosis seemed to hit home when he saw him in his hospital gown and connected to intravenous lines.

“He took (all the cancer news) in, but he really doesn’t show too much emotion about stuff like that,” Harold said. “The poor kid, when he walked into (the treatment) room, he lost it. He started crying.”

In an interview earlier this week with the Post-Tribune, Sills revealed that he had received some welcomed news from his physicians. Wearing a “Cancer Sucks” button on his baseball cap, he said his liver enzymes recently returned to numbers that would indicate a healthier organ.

Founder Brad Cloutier introduced the Young Guns event in 2007 to put a spotlight on rising young BMX talent. He said he gives his full support to organizations such as Faces of Cancer, placing its information booth front and center.

“When it comes down to one of your friends battling a serious disease like that, you have all of these hyper-competitive individuals who melt and come together,” said Cloutier.

Additionally, local BMX standouts Brandon Brown and Blake Riley promoted and hosted a benefit clinic at the indoor track with assistance from Crown Point-based Badd & Company BMX.

Grateful for the support from the BMX community and buoyed by the encouraging news, Harold said he wanted to be able to focus on being the best dad he could be.

Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Wyatt playing on the youngster’s Christmas gift: an Arctic Cat four-wheeler. A break in the frigid winter weather, he said, could allow father and son to travel to their downstate property to take the vehicle for a spin, miles away from their day-to-day concerns.



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