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Tumors limit Middlesex boy's eyesight but not his love of newspapers

| Saturday, July 19, 2014, 5:50 p.m.
Sean Tracey of Middlesex is a student in the sixth grade at the Clarence Brown School, who’s undertaking a project to read a newspaper from every state and now from other countries. Sean sits among some of his newspapers on Friday July 11, 2014.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Sean Tracey of Middlesex is a student in the sixth grade at the Clarence Brown School, who’s undertaking a project to read a newspaper from every state and now from other countries. Sean sits among some of his newspapers on Friday July 11, 2014.

Family and friends of a Butler County boy are hoping strangers will help deliver what he wants: newspapers from around the world.

Sean Tracey, 12, of Middlesex has tumors on his optic nerves caused by Lynch syndrome, which increases cancer risk and has lost part of his eyesight. The sixth-grader at Clarence C. Brown Special School also suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which affects the peripheral nerves and causes outer appendages to curl.

He is receiving experimental chemotherapy, which has stabilized the benign tumors in his eyes, said his father, John Tracey, 53, of Middlesex.

“We're really not certain if he'll lose his eyesight,” Tracey said.

Sean's interest in newspapers began during the World Cup in 2010 and has continued ever since. He began collecting newspapers at the suggestion of a teaching assistant, who told him that he should try to find a newspaper from each state. He did so in less than two months, then moved on to different countries.

“But he enjoys it so much, we just run with it. You can't do anything other than run with it,” his father said.

Friends, relatives and strangers who heard about the project via social media have sent newspapers, often attached with notes of encouragement.

Jenn Walker, Sean's personal aide, created a Facebook page called “Sean's Newspaper Quest” after receiving hundreds of newspapers from an earlier post she'd made asking for papers from different states.

“Every day was like Christmas for Sean,” Walker said. “He never knew what was going to come in.”

So far, his collection spans 50 states and 28 countries, including newspapers from South Korea, Germany and Iran, said his mother, Linda Tracey, 46, of Middlesex.

One person from Sweden sent a card with the newspaper, attaching a Swedish coin and a Swedish flag.

“I'm just tickled pink,” Sean said.

During recess, he spends his time writing thank you cards to those who included return addresses, Walker said.

For two months, she said, she received a newspaper a day for Sean. Workers at the post office had fun with the project too, calling to ask if Sean had a particular state or country yet, Walker said.

“He definitely has obstacles that he has to overcome on a regular basis and for someone that has that kind of challenge to be that positive, it's just an awesome blessing to be around on a regular basis,” she said.

Megan Henney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7987 or

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