Video game tournament benefits Sequim man afflicted with MS

Following a successful first round of an experimental stem cell transplant for multiple sclerosis, the family of Sequim’s Sean McKeown, 38, looks to gamers for support on round two.

McKeown’s family hosts a video game tournament on Saturday, June 2 at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, 400 W. Fir St. The $25 entry fee allows gamers to participate in one of three tournaments for cash prizes.

Players can compete for $500 in “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” on Xbox 360, or $100 in both “Super Smash Bros.” on Nintendo Wii, and “Rocket League” on Xbox One.

People can pay $5 to watch and support the family as well and play Guitar Hero by donation.

“Sean liked to game when he was a kid and he has teens (Madison, 14, and Dylan, 13) now who like to game,” said Sean’s sister Jeanne´ Sparks. “It’s been a way to connect with his kids.”

McKeown’s family raised funds for the first of tentatively three treatments for Sean last year. Sparks said following the treatment Sean was doing things he was unable to do before, such as mow the lawn and walk without a walker.

She said Sean’s first treatment was expected to last for about a year and they recently noticed he began to decline so his family began considering fundraising options for the second treatment.

“We needed a unique way (to fundraise) and we thought this was fabulous,” she said.

“(Video games) are the language kids speak.”

Sean, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000, previously said his body’s nerve endings are “almost like a wire,” and his T-cells are attacking the fatty tissue surrounding the nerve endings and when these cells get down to the “wire” or nerve endings “the wires snap and short out.”

He was prompted to seek alternative treatments after he was unable to take his previous medication after 10 years. Family members say the treatment takes Sean’s stem cells out of his fat areas, cleans them and creates new stem cells, which are injected back into his body to start his healing.

Sean’s family’s goal is to raise $20,000 for the treatment and travel expenses, and they assume this tournament will be the first of more fundraisers, such as a battle of the bands competition.

All Weather Heating & Cooling, which Sparks co-owns and Sean used to work for, donated the cash prizes and all the TVs, gaming consoles and more for the tournament.

Interest has been high early on for the tournament, Sparks said, as people are already asking for it to become an annual event.

To register for the tournament in advance, email, call 360-461-1139 or visit All Weather Heating & Cooling at 302 Kemp St., Port Angeles. Gamers/viewers can register at the door, too.