Stew Curran is a legend in Massachusetts lacrosse, with countless wins, multiple state titles, and an on-field resume that shows what a master of the Xs and Os he is. But those accomplishments on the field aren’t what most will remember him for – it’s who he is off the field that’s made such an impression on so many people.
Since we last covered the situation in January, Stew is still fighting his battle with partially-methylated glioblastoma, a rare form of brain cancer. Though cancer is a terrible disease that affects its victims both mentally and physically, it has not stopped Stew from being the positive person he always has been, said his son, Vin Curran.
“There hasn’t been once where he has complained, whined, or any of those things,” Vin said. “He’s just been so positive. It’s very encouraging to see that from your father.”
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That kind of mindset has made an impact on Vin.
“A couple years ago, I heard an interview, and it said, ‘There are two lotteries [in life]: where you are born, and second one is who you are born to.’ I have been so blessed with the parents I’ve had,” he said. “[Stew] has been the primary male role model in my life.”
Throughout the last year, Stew’s cancer diagnosis has brought an already-tight family even closer together.
“It has been a very unifying thing,” Vin explained. “It’s brought us closer together, which I didn’t think was possible.”
It’s done more than that, too. It’s also shown Vin just how strong of a relationship his parents have.
“It’s been amazing to see my parents’ relationship through this. It’s been eye-opening,” he said. “After 40 years, you’d think they are in a ‘stale’ period, and their appreciation for each other has been amazing to see.”
Sports, especially at the youth and high school levels, are a great way to teach life lessons. In a time where that can easily be lost through the pressures of winning, Stew has been able to help teach and mentor young adults and prepare them for life after high school.
“My dad wasn’t worried [about the Xs and Os], he was trying to help them, support them, shape them,” Vin said of his father’s coaching style. “Lacrosse was a tool to help raise good men.”
Crandon Leahy, a former player of Stew’s, agreed.
“He is always looking to elevate you on the field, but he is also wanting to help you elevate professionally,” Leahy said.
Stew’s personality has always been one of the first things that former players mention when speaking about him.
“He has such an infectious personality,” said Sean Morris, another of Stew Curran’s former players. “He’s so easy to be around. Stew was such a big part of the community and always giving more than he was asked to.”
Stew’s role in the local lacrosse community has stretched wide.
“He’s a staple in the community,” Leahy said. “If you didn’t know him, you knew someone who did.”
An outpouring of support from former players and others who have been impacted by Stew have come to the family, including a past player who told Vin that his father was one of the most positive role models in his life.
“He was crying,” Vin recounted, “and it’s cool for me to hear that, because he was such a great role model for me.”
Morris and Leahy, who work with Laxachusetts Jr. Minutemen, put together a party for Stew, and the event became bigger than they expected. It was originally supposed to be an opportunity for former players and parents whom Stew has impacted to come together and celebrate him, but it became much more.
“We expected about 75 people, but we had over 200,” Leahy explained. “There were more who couldn’t make it but would have loved to come.”
The event also helped raise money for the family through a silent auction.
“Bill Belichick donated a signed football, Tuukka Rask donated items,” Morris said. “We were able to raise over $4,700.”
Guest speakers were on tap as well, and the stories of Stew moved the listeners.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” Morris remembered.
Laxachusetts will also name a field after Stew to honor his legacy to the sport in the area.
Relatives have started a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of in-home care, and it has already surpassed its original goal of $50,000 in just over a month. Though the donations and #Shots4Stew campaign have been massively appreciated by Stew’s loved ones, it’s been the little things that people have done to help the family, from cooking meals, coming over to help, offering kind words, and more that have meant the world.
“It’s been amazing to see the support from the community of people he’s had an impact on in his life,” Vin said. “We are so fortunate to have been able to meet so many fantastic people through the game of lacrosse, and those people are supporting the hell out of us now.”
Many around the lacrosse community have felt Stew’s impact, and it has in turn rallied around the Curran family during its time of need.
“I’m not surprised how quickly [the GoFundMe] has surpassed its goal,” Leahy explained.
After hearing the stories and learning how influential of a person Stew has been for so many, I’m not surprised either.