Dan Horyn Scholarship limited to boys

After little interest from girls in track, the foundation took steps to change its qualifications. Now, boys will only be allowed to apply.


Photo by Emily Wissemes

Dan Horyn graduated from West Chicago in 1997 but was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2012. Because he was involved in track and cross country, his family set up the Dan Horyn Scholarship Foundation to help further students’ educations.

By Emily Wissemes and Hector Cervantes

The Dan Horyn Foundation will award its scholarship to only one boy from West Chicago and one from Niles North, a change from previous years.   

“This year we are keeping it to just males since he was a boys coach,” sister Nicole Nelson said. “I would love to give it to anyone, but we have had the most, in all honesty, the most interest in boy applicants than girls. Plus the fact that he was a boys coach, we just decided let’s do that.”

Horyn, an alumnus, took second place at the state championship in the mile run in 1997 with a time of 4:15 seconds. He also was class valedictorian.

After graduating in 1997, he became an English teacher and coach at Niles North, receiving Teacher of the Year in 2008.

Horyn showed signs of his illness about three months before an actual diagnosis.

“It was August of 2012. The symptoms he showed… it was too late at that point. He had a stage 4 diagnosis (for esophageal cancer). He had significant weight loss and a lot of physical symptoms,” Nelson said.

Nelson recollected Horyn’s deterioration.

“It was hard to watch. He eventually had to be in a wheelchair. He had a feeding tube because he could no longer eat on his own. And then he lost all his hair from chemo. It was very hard to see someone, so athletic, in that state,” Nelson said.

Horyn passed away Sept. 9, 2013.

Because of Horyn’s passion for teaching and coaching, his family set up the scholarship to help students further their education at a trade school, two-year college, or four-year university.

“His students always came first. We knew he’d be happy that we were setting up the foundation, because of his connection with Niles and West Chicago cross country and track,” Nelson said.

For more information about the scholarship, contact P.E. teacher and track coach Paul McLeland.