Olentangy Valley News

'Cancer hero' ready to rock runway like a Dozer

Liberty High School freshman Ryan Dozer will take part in Columbus Blue Jackets style show next week

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Olentangy Liberty High School freshman Ryan Dozer, diagnosed with lymphoma in April 2012, will serve as a model during the Black Tie Blue Jackets Style Show fundraiser next week. Ryan's family has started Fight Like a Dozer to help other cancer patients.PHOTO COURTESY OF TODD YARRINGTON

Tim Dozer isn't ashamed to admit he's not the tough one in his family.

That honor goes to his son, Ryan, 15, who was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in April 2012. Dozer said Ryan's strength comforted his parents -- not the other way around -- during his battle with the disease.

"My wife and I were a mess, but he was rock-solid through all of it," Dozer said.

Ryan, one of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation's pediatric cancer heroes, will get a chance to hang out with some other guys known for their toughness next week. The Olentangy Liberty High School freshman will be at center ice at Nationwide Arena in Columbus alongside Blue Jackets players for the Black Tie Blue Jackets Style Show.

At the charity event, Jackets players, their wives and girlfriends and 11 local pediatric cancer heroes will model fashions from local boutiques.

Ryan said he's not really interested in fashion, and he's a little nervous about walking the runway in fancy duds. Still, after he heard the show would benefit the Blue Jackets Foundation's fight against pediatric cancer, he was convinced.

"I was on board with it," he said. "Not just meeting famous people and the Blue Jackets, but just like helping to make money to help other kids with cancer."

Ryan already has met with Jackets center Boone Jenner and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky through the foundation. He said he hopes the style show will give him a chance to have a good conversation with left winger R.J. Umberger, his favorite player.

The Blue Jackets Foundation, founded in 2000, has raised more than $1 million for cancer research and its programs to assist families affected by cancer.

Dozer said the time the Blue Jackets players donate may be even more important than the money the foundation raises.

"To a 13-year-old kid, it just means the world to see those guys," he said.

Dozer said the efforts of charities and the local community to help his family led him to start a charity named for his son after Ryan's recovery. Fight Like a Dozer has grown from its initial mission of providing smoothies, mashed potatoes and other soft foods to chemotherapy patients dealing with mouth sores to providing mortgage payments to families dealing with cancer.

"When we got out of this, we wanted to give something back to the community, and that's just kind of how it started," Dozer said.

He said the charity's name came from a slogan his son's friends at Hyatts Middle School coined during his treatment. He said Ryan has taken an active role in the charity now that he's 15 months out of treatment.

Ryan said he was inspired to give back because his friends, family and the community contributed so much in his battle against cancer.

He said his friends treated him differently after he told them he had cancer, but not in a bad way.

"A lot of them were sad," he said. "They had a lot of questions, of course. They treated me different -- they wanted to help me a lot."

While Ryan was going through treatment, his grandmother also was battling cancer. Dozer said the community responded with home-cooked meals delivered to their home nightly, along with a lot of love and support.

Now, he hopes Fight Like a Dozer can provide similar support to families dealing with cancer.

Dozer said the charity covered five mortgage payments for families of cancer patients in 2013 and already has covered five more this year. He said the goal is to make at least two payments every month.

Ryan said he hopes other kids going through treatment for cancer realize they are not alone.

"(My advice is) just not to give up," he said. "It'll be over before you know it. Hopefully you've got a lot of friends and family to help you get through it."

The Black Tie Blue Jackets Style Show, which includes a pre-show reception, dinner and other perks, starts at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Nationwide Arena. Packages for the event start at $250.

For more information on the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, visit bluejacketsfoundation.org.

For more information on Fight Like a Dozer, visit fightlikeadozer.org.

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