Our TV campaign this year focuses on the lives of five kids who allow us to walk with them on the other side of “better.” Here’s the story of 19-year-old Ryan Anderson.
In high school, Ryan Anderson was an honor student, excellent shot put and discus thrower, as well as a star football player sought after by many Division I colleges.
But the football dreams he had since he was a little boy were sidelined during his junior year when Akron Children’s doctors discovered why he had been experiencing 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 six inches of his femur removed and his knee replaced in July 2011.
Despite everything he’s been through, Ryan never stopped rooting for his teammates or enjoying the events of his senior year. And he credits his training and football mindset for bringing him through the toughest times.
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.
In addition to fan votes, a national selection committee of current and former NFL players, coaches and other notable figures determines the amount of each finalist’s scholarship.
Ryan was chosen as the Fan Favorite in the 2011 Rudy Awards and received a $1,500 academic scholarship.
“Ryan’s story is very inspirational and we are grateful that he’s willing to share it with others,” said Dr. Stephanie Savelli, his oncologist. “Ryan is one of the sweetest, largest, young men that I’ve ever cared for. I call him my gentle giant.”
At 6-foot-4 and 330 lbs, Ryan is an imposing guy who’s not giving up. “If there’s one thing to hold on to, it’s hope,” Ryan says. “Hope heals all. As long as you have hope, you have something to fight for.”
Listen to Ryan’s Radio Spot