Meet Ryan: Star athlete’s determination in the face of cancer inspires others

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson has courage and composure beyond his years. A competitive and determined mindset made him an honors student, excellent shot-put and discus thrower, as well as a star football player sought after by many Division I colleges.

His football dreams were sidelined during his junior year at Kent Roosevelt High School when doctors gave the worst possible diagnosis for the cause of the lineman’s knee pain – cancer.

Ryan was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that affects only 400 children in the U.S. each year. After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy, he had to have six inches of his femur removed and replaced with a rod.

Despite everything he’s been through, Ryan never stopped rooting for his teammates or enjoying the events of his senior year. He is grateful for the staff in Akron Children's Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders who were with him every step of the way.

“Everyone at Akron Children’s is great,” he said. “My time was the best it could be, even though I was going through a tough time. The staff  tried to make the situation the best they could.”

After experiencing first-hand the care and support offered by the center, Ryan has become a great spokesperson for the center, describing his journey at various fundraising and awareness events.

“Ryan’s story is very inspirational and we are grateful that he’s willing to share it with others,” said Dr. Stephanie Savelli, Ryan’s oncologist.

To thank the hospital for his care, he recently participated in a campaign at 26 Giant Eagle stores throughout Stark, Summit, Medina and Portage counties. The proceeds benefitted the cancer and blood disorders center.

“When I had the opportunity to use my story to help Akron Children’s, I jumped on it,” he said. “I like to help in any way I can.”

Ryan’s positive attitude led to his selection as one of 12 finalists in a national contest called The High School Football Rudy Awards.

The Rudy Awards celebrate outstanding young athletes for their ability to inspire teammates, classmates, families and communities. It honors players who demonstrate the exemplary values of football legend Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the inspirational figure of the classic football film, Rudy.

In addition to fan votes, a national selection committee, comprising current and former NFL players, coaches and other notable figures, determines the amount of each finalist’s scholarship, ranging from $1,000  to $7,500.

Ryan was chosen as the Fan Favorite in the 2011 Rudy Awards and received a $1,500 academic scholarship. He plans to pursue a career in teaching and possibly coaching.

Star athlete's determination inspires others
Publication: Showers Family Center Newsletter
Issue: 2011

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