Fairland teen beats cancer, rallies others

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

PROCTORVILLE - Thirteen-year-old Ryan Dick knows a thing or two about labels.

He is a seventh grader at Fairland Middle School, a saxophone player, a basketball player and a soon-to-be member of the National Honor Society. But it is another label - cancer survivor - that led to his newest title: Relay for Life team captain.

"I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 5-weeks-old, cancer in the eye," said Ryan who was born with retinoblastoma and is still visually impaired.

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"After two years I was cancer free. I still go back for checkups but since then I've been OK."

Ryan and his family have attended the Relay for Life for the last two years. His team, the Llooney Llamas, consists of 12 members including his parents, a "bunch of seventh graders" and his TAG English teacher Mrs. Wilson who wanted to join the team for this year's relay.

"I've done it for the last two years and it's been really fun," he said.

The team has raised money by having two bake sales at the school and selling approximately 500 candy bars. They were planning a car wash last weekend but had to cancel due to rain.

"I just decided that since I had to go through it, we'd try to raise money to find a cure for it," he said.

When he has free time, Ryan said that he likes to play sports outside, hang out with his friends and sometimes play video games. His main sport is basketball, but he also likes to swim and ride his bike around the neighborhood when he can.

"Ryan is a fine young man, he's a good student, he's a good person, one of our student leaders here," Fairland West Principal Michael Whitley said.

Although Ryan will be attending the Survivors' Reception before the relay on Friday, Ryan said he will have to leave a bit early to help his parents decorate the team tent for the relay.

"I think it's very well organized. The survivors seem to enjoy it," Ryan said of the Survivor's Reception. "I think the whole relay is a really good way to celebrate people that have survived cancer."

The Relay for Life Survivor's Reception will be held at 5 p.m. Friday at Fairland West Elementary.

The reception is for those who have been victorious over cancer or are fighting the disease. All survivors will receive a bronze "Celebrate Life" medallion and a T-shirt to wear during the relay.

After the reception, the relay will begin with the opening Survivor Lap where survivors will take a victory lap around the track.

For more information about survivor activities please contact Teresa Johnson or Sandy Joseph at Fairland West Elementary, (740) 886-3150.