3 ex-MSU players biking to Mexico to aid orphans

Published 10:14 pm Monday, April 20, 2009

Three former Michigan State University football players are taking part in a 2,000-mile bike ride from the East Lansing campus to Matamoros, Mexico, to help raise $500,000 needed to finish construction of an orphanage in the border city.

Ex-defensive tackle John Shinsky and wife Cindy are working to open an orphanage in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Next Saturday, at halftime of Michigan State’s spring football game at Spartan Stadium, Shinsky plan to set out on the fundraising bike trek. The $500,000 goal is on top of $800,000 already raised.

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He’s being joined by two close friends from the Spartans team of the early 1970s — Joe DeLamielleure, who went on to become an NFL Hall of Famer, and Eljay Bowron, who went on to head the Secret Service.

The route takes the riders through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas before they reach Matamoros.

They tell the Lansing State Journal that as a freshman, Shinsky declared he would some day build a place for children.

“Forty years later, we’re riding on a bike to this guy’s orphanage,” DeLamielleure said. “Do you know how unbelievable that is to me? It’s like make-believe.”

Shinsky is remembered as a tough player.

“He was crazy,” DeLamielleure said. “We battled every day in practice. If I could go to practice and block John Shinsky, I could block anyone.”

Shinsky had been involved in aiding an orphanage in Mexico when he Shinsky got a call in 2003 from prominent Matamoros developer Ramiro Gonzalez, saying he wanted to donate 17 acres of land if Shinsky would build a new orphanage on it.

“As soon as John got that call he said, ’This is what we were meant to do,”’ said Cindy Shinsky said. “And he’s right. This is what we were meant to do.”

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