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It must have felt like he was leading a charmed existence.
Dan Potokar was a star athlete at Grove City High School who received a track and field scholarship at Ohio State University. He then parlayed his fleetness of foot to an even more prestigious spot on the roster of the football team. It was a dream come true, an ambition realized.
Then the young man began to feel discomfort. In an embarrassing place. He ignored it.
Walk it off.
Potokar, who turned 21 on March 29, had developed testicular cancer. By the time he sought treatment in early December, it had spread to his lungs and abdomen. Although surgery and chemotherapy at first seemed to work, his is a form of the disease that's particularly resistant to treatment.
"Cancer's bad enough, and he's got the worst," said Potokar's aunt, Suzanne Thomas of Cincinnati.
So instead of fighting for playing time, fighting defensive backs for the ball, fighting to break tackles on kick returns, Dan Potokar is fighting for his life.
And the people in his hometown are rallying around the young man and his family.
Two fund-raising events are being held this weekend to help with the mounting bills as a result of Potokar received even more intensive treatment at Indiana University Hospital. His parents, Ed Potokar and Nannette Kinman, have both left their jobs and are temporarily living in Indianapolis, according to Thomas, who is serving as spokeswoman for the family.
The first event is a bowl-a-thon set for Saturday, April 26, from noon to 4 p.m. at Grove City Lanes on Broadway. Those interested in participating in the bowling fund-raiser should contact Terry Ehrmann at 871-7977, his home number, his cell phone at 216-7977 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Danielle Radcliffe is also a contact for the bowl-a-thon, and she may be reached by calling 599-3466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following day, a "Dining for Danny" pizza buffet will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. at Plank's on Broadway. For a cover charge of $10, participants may eat their fill of the restaurant's pizza and have as much pop as they like.
Family friend Mary Mulvany, who went to high school with Nannette Kinman, may be contacted regarding the "Dining for Danny" event at email@example.com or 871-3466.
In order to comply with NCAA regulations, any payments for participating in the events or other contributions must be made out to Ohio State University with Dan Potokar's name written in the memo line, according to Mulvany, a teacher at Finland Middle School.
Potokar's aunt, Suzanne Thomas, reported late last week that the young athlete had just completed the first of two cycles of very intense treatment. He's exhausted and sleeping much of the time, she said.
"I'd say, honestly, it's day-to-day," Thomas added.
Potokar's mother and father, whose other children are staying with family and friends while they are near their stricken son, are holding up, according to Mulvany.
"They're doing remarkably well," she said. "They're incredibly strong. They have a good faith base. They have the community behind them."
The support from the Grove City community has been immensely helpful in buoying the family's spirits, Thomas indicated.
"It's humbling," she said, "but it's just a breath of relief because they know they're not in it alone, and the community has just embraced him and they care so much. In the middle of a horrible illness, you still see love and comforting. They're so grateful."
The young man the community has embraced is very special, in Mary Mulvany's opinion.
"He's an All-American kid," she said. "It might be a cliché, but he's athletic, he's kind; a good role model. This is very sad."