To Anthony Stranges, cancer meant dying. He was 7 and in the second grade and had something sinister growing in his mouth. Doctors gave it the worst name. “It meant a bad ending,” he thought. But he was wrong. More than a decade later, Stranges enrolled at Ohio State, where he joined BuckeyeThon and ultimately became president of the student-driven fundraiser to beat pediatric cancer and blood disorders. During his tenure in 2016-17, BuckeyeThon raised more than $1.5 million for the kids at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“I’ve been able to see one generation truly fighting for the next generation of students, of leaders, of people in our community,” Stranges said.
In a way, he’s also fighting for that little boy who thought cancer meant death. When he was 7, a dental hygienist discovered a discolored spot in his month. Countless exams, scans and exploratory surgeries later, doctors at Ohio State and Nationwide finally diagnosed him with a rare form of cancer. He got lucky. Surgery took care of his cancer, and it never came back. There was no bad ending. He grew up and learned about BuckeyeThon through his older sister, and he joined as a freshman. By senior year, he was finishing his degree and volunteering full-time for the cause. It ran him through a roller coaster of emotion and took an extraordinary amount of dedication, but he couldn’t help but be involved. He saw what it meant to the volunteers – and he already knew what it meant to the children.
“We’re empowering an entire community to rally behind a cause,” he said. “And it empowers these kids to see that we are working to find a cure for them.”