Mr. Moon relishes Amherst Regional’s football season, will not miss it despite cancer treatments

  • Keir Moon, otherwise known as Mr. Moon, stands at Holyoke High School, where the Amherst Regional football team beat West Springfield in the Western Massachusetts Division 5 championship on Nov. 16. Like he has done all season, Moon was a member of Amherst’s chain gang. Moon has worked the football games despite undergoing cancer treatment. COURTESY GOFUNDME

  • Keir Moon, otherwise known as Mr. Moon, stands at Holyoke High School, where the Amherst Regional football team beat West Springfield in the Western Massachusetts Division 5 championship on Nov. 16. Like he has done all season, Moon was a member of Amherst’s chain gang. Moon has worked the football games despite undergoing cancer treatment. COURTESY GOFUNDME

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2019 8:04:43 PM
Modified: 12/6/2019 8:04:30 PM

AMHERST — Amherst Regional couldn’t have reached the Division 5 Super Bowl without Mr. Moon. How would the Hurricanes know the line of scrimmage?

Moon, whose first name is Keir but wants everyone to call him Mr. Moon, is the “box man” in Amherst’s chain gang for home games at Community Field. He holds the yard marker in between the chains to show what down it is and how far the Hurricanes have to gain to achieve a first down. It’s part of his volunteer work with Amherst football at every level. He also sets up and tears down the field for youth, junior varsity and varsity games – and has since he started volunteering in 2008.

“It’s the best seat in the house,” said Moon.

The 69 year old has been there reliably for more than a decade, white beard hanging past his collarbone. Amherst Regional coach Chris Ehorn Jr. has paced by him on the far sideline for every game during his four years leading the Hurricanes. Then, for two weeks near the start of this season, Moon wasn’t there.

“We had no idea (where he went),” Ehorn said.

Moon was diagnosed with throat cancer Sept. 12. He missed two games before returning and informing Ehorn of his diagnosis with a fresh shave. The beard needed taming so the radiation therapy mask could fit over his face. It’s a neon green mesh that is heated until it becomes flexible then formed over his face and bolted to a table. Moon compares it to an alien autopsy. He stays there for a half hour during radiation treatment at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. His daughter, Ginger Moon, started a GoFundMe to help cover medical expenses.

“My dad is the most generous person I’ve ever encountered and the older that I get the more I come to see that and recognize that,” Ginger Moon said. “He’s always super helpful to anyone. He donates countless hours of his time.”

In addition to his work with Amherst football, Moon also volunteers at the Take it or Leave It Shed at the Amherst Transfer Station. He’s lived in Amherst for 26 years after moving around a lot growing up. His mother’s family is from Amherst, and his grandfather was market gardener Wilbur “Win” Shumway. Moon also once managed the former Adirondack Music among other jobs like computer programmer, ultimately retiring “a long time ago,” he said. He wove himself into the fabric of the community and the football program.

“Even though it’s not recommended he comes now, he said he’s gonna come because he’s not gonna miss out on a season like this,” Ehorn said.

Ehorn would know. His wife, Tara Henson, is a radiation therapist at Cooley Dickinson. She’s not allowed to tell him who she works on because of the Hippocratic Oath. And she didn’t. Moon told Ehorn himself.

“I met your wife, and she’s lovely,” Ehorn said Moon told him.

Moon’s held the down marker for five games in Amherst – all wins – sometimes in freezing temperatures with hand warmers stuffed in his neon winter gloves. Moon even worked the Holyoke sideline as Amherst won its first Western Massachusetts championship in 20 years.

“I didn’t feel bad. I really wanted to be there,” Moon said. “Physically, I was capable of running up and down the football field, so why not?”

Moon started volunteering because his grandchildren Daniel Martin II and Xavier Toledo played Pee Wee football in Amherst. As they aged up through the program, he followed them to the high school. Some of the Hurricanes current seniors like Cenai Collins, Ethan Howard and Jack Nagy played with Moon’s granddaughter Kileyah Martin at the youth level, so he’s watched them grow and develop as football players and people.

“He is a great man and a great supporter of our team,” Nagy said. “He is someone I always look forward to seeing on the sidelines, a reminder of what the program stands for beyond the school, for the town.”

Moon couldn’t work on the chain gang during the state semifinals against Northbridge at Westfield State because officials take over all aspects of game administration at the state level. He still stood on the Amherst sideline, supporting the Hurricanes.

“It’s only natural, isn’t it? I’ve been watching these kids for 12 years,” Moon said. “I’d run the chains at Gillette if they’d let me.”

They won’t, but Moon is welcome on Amherst’s sideline. He’s one of the few non players or coaches that can get away with hanging out and chatting.

“It’s exciting to see him there. He cares so much,” Ehorn said. “He cared when we were really bad, and he cares when we’re really good. He’s part of our program.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.



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