Sedalia will once again join the #RallyForRhyan with a slightly different hashtag to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer: #FryinForRhyan.
Six-year-old Rhyan Loos, daughter of University of Missouri Mens Basketball Assistant Coach Brad Loos, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at the age of 5 in October 2015. Since then, Rhyan has been through several cancer treatments at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
She’s had plenty of support though — from benefits across Central Missouri to national news coverage on ESPN’s SportsCenter, thousands of dollars and awareness have been raised through #RallyForRhyan.
“The support throughout mid-Missouri, Columbia, Sedalia, and the Warrensburg area has been amazing,” Brad Loos said by phone last week. “It really says something about the type of people in Missouri and how big their hearts are. When they found out about us in Sedalia, our connection with (MU Head) Coach (Kim) Anderson and him being from Sedalia, it’s been remarkable how supportive and loving and caring they’ve been for our family. They’ve really treated us like one of their own.”
Local resident Steve Bloess was a teammate of Anderson’s in high school and his son, Dru, played for Loos at UCM basketball camps, and he has continued to support both Anderson and Loos during their coaching careers at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg and at MU. It was that connection that sparked the idea for Fryin’ for Rhyan.
“It’s to support Rally for Rhyan, to create prayer for Rhyan and to generate awareness that we need to fund more children’s cancer research projects,” Bloess said. “The three primary goals. And to make darn sure Brad Loos knows we’ve got his back, the whole Loos family, as best we can in this tough time.”
Fryin’ for Rhyan will feature a fish fry at Kehde’s BBQ in Sedalia, “like a giant family fish fry,” Bloess said. Bloess said John Kehde offered to open Kehde’s on a Tuesday, when the restaurant is typically closed, and the staff will help cook all the food. For a donation, attendees can have their fill of several types of fish, including catfish and crappie, as well as sides such as beans, cole slaw and fries. For dessert, attendees can take their ticket to Dairy Queen for a free ice cream cone.
“They’re very faithful and believe in prayer,” Bloess said. “We’ll have rubber bracelets that say ‘Rally for Rhyan’ for $5 to remember to snap every night and say a prayer every night for Rhyan. We want the Loos’ to know there’s been a big dose of prayer for Rhyan.”
Anderson is scheduled to attend and players from MU and State Fair Community College could possibly be in attendance. Loos said his family plans to attend the event, as long as Rhyan is feeling up to it. He added that Rhyan has felt “well” lately, “probably the best since she was diagnosed.”
While the event is focused on Rhyan, proceeds will go toward pediatric cancer research, which Loos said is “incredibly underfunded.”
“Of the National Cancer Institute’s $5 billion budget, pediatric cancer gets 4 percent of that,” he explained. “What’s alarming about that is cancer is the No. 1 cause of death by disease for children in the U.S. This is our future, our most precious commodity is our children, we need to dedicate more to it. Fryin’ for Rhyan is a great start. It’s not only raising money but more importantly raising awareness.”
Loos said almost $250,000 has been raised for pediatric cancer research through #RallyForRhyan events across the country, including support from friend and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis and his wife Cindy, who recently raised $56,000 for the cause by running the Boston Marathon.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Loos said of the support. “Never in my wildest dreams could we have expected the type of support and momentum we’ve received since this started. We started a Facebook page and someone posted #RallyForRhyan. We put it on some of our posts and it grew a life of its own. The heart of it is in Missouri, but people throughout the country, especially sports figures and a number of nationally renowned basketball players, have offered support and donations.
“It’s overwhelming and quite a surprise, but I think that’s been the ray of light in this — we’re making somewhat of a difference. She’s having to suffer through this, but it’s raised awareness and raised some money through the process.”
Loos said last week that Rhyan will be starting cycle eight of chemotherapy soon at Women’s and Children’s Hospital. According to the Rally For Rhyan Facebook page, Rhyan’s platelet count was too low Monday to start, so they will attempt it again next week. Then, she will head back to New York for another round of treatment.
“The treatments have worn her down, but the chemo she’s on now, the side effects are minimal,” Loos said. “She’s put on weight, so it’s starting to look like she’ll come with us (to the event).”
Fryin’ for Rhyan will take place from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24 at Kehde’s BBQ, 1915 S. Limit Ave. Tickets are available at the door for $25 or in advance for $20 at W-K Chevrolet, Kehde’s BBQ, Bryant Motors, Tom Regan American Family Insurance and Val Bloess State Farm Insurance.
Bloess said local companies can contact him at 660-281-4154 if they would like to donate items for door prizes or purchase a sponsorship, which is $100 and gets the company two tickets.
For updates on Rhyan’s journey, visit Facebook.com/RallyforRhyan.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.