Worthington News

Turnout for photo was 'Gussstrong'

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They came as families, as teams, as groups of friends.

A few straggled in alone, wanting only to make a small difference in the life of a man who has touched their lives.

In all, about 400 community members showed up this past Saturday morning, Aug. 10, to be part of a photograph of people spelling out "Gussstrong." It was a show of support for Thomas Worthington High School teacher and baseball coach Stephen Gussler.

Each wearing a "Gussstrong" T-shirt, they lined up on the football field at the school for an aerial photo. As a drone carrying a camera hovered above, the smiled and waved.

The photos will be sold to support the Gussstrong Foundation and will be sent to Gussler, who is recovering from surgery in a Tulsa hospital.

Gussler, 42, is fighting stage 4 colon cancer. His battle has become a community cause, with the photo being the latest in the Gussstrong campaign to get behind the popular coach, to raise money to help the family with expenses and to help find a cure for colon cancer.

Gussler will not be back in the classroom when school opens next week, but supporters hope he will be back to coach baseball in the spring.

Amy Struewing has a son who is a freshman and one in the fifth grade. She wants both of them to play for Gussler, she said as she lined up with her family and neighbors.

"It makes me feel good to be part of this," she said. "It makes me proud to be part of Worthington."

Sean Luzader said he was pleased with the turnout. He is a teacher and coach at Thomas Worthington and a close friend of Gussler. Luzader has faced his own struggle with colon disease since Gussler was diagnosed.

"He has been an inspiration to me," Luzader said.

The Gussstrong campaign keeps expanding, in part with the support and skills of the students in the Entrepreneurship and Business Academy at Thomas Worthington. Luzader teaches business to EBA students. They sell T-shirts and other Gussstrong items online and at the school store, and they held a golf outing in June.

"Our kids have been behind this so much," he said. "A lot of the ideas came from students."

He said he hopes the campaign could expand beyond Worthington to raise awareness and support to find a cure outside central Ohio.

Gussler has been in the hospital since July 8. He decided to go to the Tulsa hospital after talking to a Worthington staff member whose father is a doctor at there. The Tulsa facility does a type of surgery that is not done in central Ohio.

Gussler also is undergoing physical therapy to regain his strength.

"He is past the worst part," his brother, Eric, said after watching the photo session. "The family is incredibly grateful and overwhelmed by the support."

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